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e'

arrative,
Histo

DAVID CARR

Tim e, Nor
rofive,
an d
llistory

Studies in Phenomeno g
lo y and
Existential Philosophy
CllNfllll\L ED1ro
n

James

David Cm
Edward S. Casoy
Stanloy Cavol l

CONSULTINC

Rodorlck M. Chisholm
Hubort L. Oreyfus
Wllllam Earlo
J. N. Findlay

OagRnn Follosdttl
Marjorle Crene
OlHor Honrich

Don lhJo
Emmonuol Lovlnas
Alphonso Lingls

M. Edfe

EDITORS

Wllllnm L.
McOri do
J. N. Moh ant
y
Maurico Natans
on
Frodorlck Oluf
son
Paul Rlcoour
John Sallls
Goorgo Schredor
Calvin O. Schrag
Robort Sokolow
ski
Horbort Splogolbors
Charlos Thylor
Samuo) J. Todos
Bruce W. Wll11hlru

Time, Narrave,
and History
DAVID CARR

INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRSS


Bloomington I Indionapohs

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Contents

ix

Acknowledgments
Introduction

The Temporal Structure of Experience and Action

18

1. From Real Time to Real Human Time

18

2. The Temporality of Experience

21

3. The Temporality o f Action

30

4. The Melodie Element of Time

40
45

Temporality and Narrative Structure

1. Configuration and Narrative Structure

46

2. Complex and Extended Experience and Action

52

3. Narrative, Narrator, and Audience

57

4. Some Concurring Views and Some Clarifications

65

III

The Self and the Coherence of Li/e

73

1. Coherence and Narrative Structure


2. Self-Authorship and Authenticity:

73
A Dispute

80

3. Settling the Dispute over Authenticity

86

4. Being in Time

94

IV

Temporality and Historicity

100

1. The Problem

100

2. Husserl and Heidegger on Geschichtlichkeit

102

vii

viii

Contents
3. Historicity and Narrative

4. A New Problem
V

Fromlto We

l. ln Search of the lransIndividua I


. ct
SubJe
.
2. Movu g beyond Pheno

menology
Cornrno
Expenence and Common
n
Ac1on
t.

3. Hegel's Dialectic of Reco


gnition

Acknowledgments

4. Group, Time, and Narrative


VI

Time, Narrative, and His


tory

l. Individual and Communit


y m
. conc reto
2. Communa1 Narra tive and
Historical Tim
e
3. From Historica1 Time to
Historiography
4. Who Are "We"?
Index

1 would like to express my thanks to the Ottawa Eiskreis. The

members of that august body have probably heard more about this
project than they ever wanted to know, but they have patiently

153

listened and responded with probing questions, suggestions, and

encouragement. 1 am especially indebted to my colleagues Hilliard

153

Aronovitch and Andrew Lugg. The students in my recent graduate

168

Further advice and encouragement have come from my colleagues

163
177
187

courses at the University of Ottawa, in which many of the ideas in


this book were first exposed and tested, deserve thanks as well.
William Dray and Peter McCormick.
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
provided me with a semester's freedom from teaching and with a
research assistant, the capable and helpful Thorsteinn Hilmarsson.
Jocelyne LaCasse typed most of the manuscript; for this she deserves
sympathy and many thanks.
F inally

1 would like

to thank Leslie Carr for her encouragement

and support while this book was being written.

ix

Introduction
1.

This study is intended as a contributon to the philosophy of


history. l should explain right away, however. that the nature of my
proposed contribution differs considerably from what is usually
understood by philosophy of history. It is customary to point out that

the term, as used today, has two radically different senses. What 1
want to do here corresponds, in fact, to neither of them.

What is usually called the substantive or speculatve philosophy of

history has addressed itself to the whole of human history and asked
after its origin, the nature of its unfolding, and in some cases its
ultimate destiny. Associated primarily with certain thinkers of the
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries [Vico, Herder, Hegel) and
often debunked as a disreputable and fruitless enterprise, this ap
proach has given way, in the late nineteenth and the twentieth cen

turies, to the so-called criticai or analytic philosophy of bistory. Here

"history," as permitted by the well-known ambiguity of the term,


denotes not the historical process itself but the knowledge we have of
it as delivered by historians, or, alternatively, the disciplined inquiry
in which they seek for or anive at such knowledge. The philosophi
cal questions asked are basically epistemological and concem the
concepts, modes of explanation, validity. and objectivity of the bisto
rians' claims about the past.
The development of this approach to history has been attended by

a constant reference, implicit and explicit, to the sciences of nature.

lf the substantive philosophy of history can be compared to a high


flown "philosophy of nature," which speculates about the cosmos
beyond the reach of our wa.rranted scientific knowledge, the criticai
philosophy of history corresponds to the more modest "philosophy

of science." This development became possible and inevitable in


nineteenth-century Germany when history was institutionalized in
university departments, dignified with the title o{ Wissenschaft, and
1

Timo, Narrativo an
d HJstory

accompanlod by pretonslons to rigor and


oLJoct1v11
Dilthoy proposed a Krltik dor histor/sich
y
r
c n un/r

sult,
seoklng
d
foJlowe
o
to do f r h
Kantlans
l r cal elenco w he lleo_
had dono for natural sdonce. From that bc
h
1\8 n Jng lh r
ough 11 81 k.111
at the hands of twentfoth-century Anglo rnor1ca
n Ph .l o.to te
1
criticai phlosoph y of history has boon e
ph v veJ

r od
Wlth w lhe
n
histor y can legitimately be callod a scienco
f so, how
h
J

Jt 1 er
i rs
pares wHh the scJence oi natura. PlifJosop 11o
h
Colll
ave
.
f
questions m many di ( erent ways, some attorn tl ng
10 r
P
educ0 hl
to social and thence to natural scienc e . at the ono e
lory
xtrom
ra dica lly soparate and aut
arguing for historys
ono rnou
ff
eh11rac1e r
the other. The latter are fn e ect argufng that lt Is lna
11
PProprf ate
lo tJle
natural scfence as a standard and are thu
.., objoctl ng t
0 1 h o
parfson ltseJ f, but t hey are occupfod wJth Jt nonothel
Com.
oss
thfs
about
me
s
developmo
strlko
nt
Is not s m
What
o uch Ih0
1PPro.
prlaten ess of t he com par ison ltsolf as the fact that th
rougho ur.
t e
focus of phllosophlcal reflcctfon fs on history as
an e tab/ls
hed ,

ongoing discipline wlth a strictly cogntive lnterest Q ue t


> 1 ona abo
ur
'
led ge oI the pas t are reali y quostlons about
"our " ,.now
lho hl
knowledge of the past; fn othor words, Jmowlcdg o is portra
as tb
sort possossed or sought by somoone with an lnterest

nd llhe11ll

: y

:
ana worod Ihe
ie
1d
a6 l orher1

0orlan'1
e
1/oblectJva
d Ihe
1
n
a
h w
lhe

and warrantod clalms, securely grounded ln the evld o ce; an


n
past is portrayed as lt fs Jmown by someone wlrh s uch
ntcre11
What is under analysls fs exclusive ly the connoction et een

hlstorlan and his or hor objcct.

There fs nothlng wrong wlth examining thls connoctlon phllo


sophically. There are good roasons for dol ng ft. But thls procedure

londs ltself to a certain abstractnoss, whlch can be characte rlzed


somowhat exaggeratedly, as follows: Hlstorians are assurnod lo
the scene, exlstfng oi courso ln thc prescnt, and equlpped wlth ali

enet ;

the afms, intorests, and skiJls oi thcfr professfon. Th13y are theo

portrayed as coming upon some documonts, monumenls, or ruln1;

and the philosopher thon asks how, on tho basis oi thls mcagre

evfdence, hfstorians can reconstruct the evcnts and porsons oi a past

thcy can nevar dfrectly know. ln othor words, how does the historlan
move from a total ignorance oi the past to JmowJedge of m
This approach thus suggcsts, without saylng lt fn so many word1,

that "our" only real connectfon to tho historicaJ past 1s he result oi


historlcaJ fnqulry, whcthor we carry lt out ourseJvcs or are pro vlded
wth ft second-hand by rcading the results oi the hfstodans ' work,
where as lt sooms to mo obvfous that wc have a conn ectfo n to the

l11troducllon

of
hlstorlcol put. u ordlnory pouon8, prior to and l11dopondontly
lho
ln
llko,
would
J
'
Or
vo
t

ro
o
l
ln
adopllng lhe hltorlcaJ.cognlll
.

followlng, to arsue.

J wlll not coll thl "connocllon" to lho put "knowlodRo" of li. lnco

witr
li la customory to rcsorve tho lullor word for what 11 ai lo1ut
oylng
arn
ranlod by somo agrood-upon eplatomlc procoduro1. Whol I
11 thoro for
Is lhot ln a noivo and proclonllllc woy tho hlatorlcnl po1t
wo oro
whothor
ali o ua, that li figurei ln our ordlnary vlow of thlngs,

call non
hlstorlans or not. Wo hove what tho phonomonologl11ta
whlch
po11t
hltorlcnl
tho
themotJc or prelhomol/c aworenou of
exporl
our
or
o,
exporlonc
unctlon1 H background for our pro1ont
woll, of
ence oi tho proaont. Tho hlatorlon hu lhl oxporlonco 88
lhe
what
1
li
1on10
a
ln
hlslorlan.
a
course, prior to bocomlng
and
oxplldt
makoa
ho
or
ho
whon
hlstorlan sockt to roplace
oi
thcrnatlc clalmt about the past. Yet lt lt mlsloodlng to spoak
doo
poel
tho
o(
aworonou
bac:kground
vague
thl
1lnco
lt,
rcplac:lng

not, lt 1oom1 to me, conslt! ovon lmpllcltly ln a colloctlon o! clolmt.


and lt
Thus lt Is not a case of ropfaclng one sol of clolrna wlth anolhor;
or
post
the
of
H
awarono
tlc
prethoma
of
Jdnd
the
that
arguod
be
can
whlch

world.

1 am apoaldng 11 operativo ovon ln tho hlstorlon' vlow oi tho

Ali of thls 1uggo1ts that lt would contributo to our phlloaophlcol


undors tandlng of hlatory 11 a dlaclpllno lf we woro to reloto li
pro
cognltlve approach to lho post to lho lorgor contoxt o! thll

thomatlc "background" awaronou.


natural
Edmund Hussorl arguod1 that wo can fully comprohond
to tholr
back
11
lshmont
accompl
o
cognitiv
lt
race
t
we
sclon co only lf
obviou
11
lt
ce.
oxporlon
tlftc
prosclon
,
everyday
of
world
orlgln ln lho

that we

aro ln coustant contact wlth lho natural world, whothor we

of thot
aro sclontlsts or not, and that we mlsconstruo both tho nalure
our
thot
0
1
o
upp
1
wo
lf
sdonce
or
l11hrnont
accompl
contact and tho
through
or
1
sclontlst
at
huve
we
what
1
nature
only awarenoH oi

what lho 1clontls ts toll u1. lt 11 ln the "llfoworld" thol we actually


to "brockot"
llve, evon Jf wo are 1clf.mtlsts, and Huuorl propoo
back lnto
brlng
to
l
ordor
ln
s
t
s
rt1
nature 01 portrayod by the 1clo
vo
rlookod
gols
o
but
thoru
phllosophlcal vlow whot Is actuolly alwoy

by roloctlon bocous o li I 10 cioso to u1.


1 want to do somothf ng comporeble for hl11tory a nd for our

1ran1Ctltld11n1a/ Ph
1. gdmund Hu.,11rl, The Cr/1/1 of Eumpeun Sc/111c:.-1 and
1070), Pr> rna-uo.
nomenolo1y. Ir. O. C.m 1Evn11on: Northwlttrn Unlver1lly Prou,

TWle,

Narrative, ond HiSU>ry

awareness ol the historicaJ past. 1 want to set . 1. d e


h
cognitve n1ere$t and bracket the past as an obJect oflhe iat
.
an
as
appear
' ledge . '
W
O
elem
.
past
the
ent of our ex
arder to let
encect
This movement d. thought 1
phenornen
ogy and
de?i
to some extent, from some of 1 dassi cal Practiro e
tb Husserl and Martin H e ide gger, for rs._ Sonie
p
the term "historcity" (Geschichtlichlceit) to denote

1
at
b.aYe h.
when he
mind here: the idea expressed
d

. are observers [Betr


hlstorical heings fim before we

och
of
we are the former do we becorne
and only

:
historic al world IS always there," sai d
.. and the
.
from
the
outside
t
but
is
intertWined
not only observes
wit ft[insie
ths means something more int
verwebt)."2 Clearly
resting th
e
.
.
.
an
. 1stoncal
merely that subject and obJect of h.
inquir y are of
the
species. Giambattista Vico's idea, also frequently em h . SilJle
p
Dilthey, that we can understand history n a wav
,, we can

understand nature because "he who studies history is the saine


as be
who males it, '"> apart from being open to very serous
questions
does not go far enough. To say that we are "historical he'
mgs,, and
ulory ts not merely to say that we are
mtertw1ned w1 th h:...
alJ .
hstory u part of the historcal process. lt means that we
hi$lory u we are in the world: it serves as the horizon and

s with

by Dilthey

beca

Dilthey,

kn

-Or

e(
t."'lbe
d
:drv
!Slzed by

..

ground for our everyday experence.

This, ln any case , is the core of the notion of historicitv picked


He i degger' treatme
of the concept are dfferent from each other, and to my mind neth
is very s.atsfying.4 1 shall try to show why in chapter IV. To the
that 1 borrow from Husserl and Heidegger 1 wll draw more on what

by the phenomenologists. But H us serl's a n d

:
exte:

they say in a general way about temporality than on what they tell us
about historcity. It mght b e said that 1 shall follow more the spirit

than the lett er of phenomenological approaches to history. Another


reuon for this is that a second major focus of the following study,
apart from time and the experence of time,
is narrativ&-<>r , more

humbly, tory and story-telling. The two go together,


in that narrative

iJ our pnmary (thoug not our only)


h
way of organizing our experi

2. Wilhelm D'lth ey, e


esommel te Schriften, vol. VII. Sth edition, ed. B. Croethuyseo
(Stuttgart 8 t 1 b
968), pp. 277-78.
.
e
1
r,
n
eu
3. lbld.. p. 278.
4. Huaaerl'1 ld
hlatoriclty .re
Europeall
ntaned prlmarlly ln The Cri1:1 of
Sciencea. . . See
.
n Heidegger 1 Being ond Time, tr. J. Macquarrie and E. Robill
ton (New York H
arper Row, 1962), dlvision two, eh.
5.

:I

lntroduction

"

can elucidate our pre


ence of time. and understood in this sense it
have said a lot about
theoretical past. Wbile the phenomenologists
little about nar
our experience of time, they have said relatively
discussed of late by
rative. By contrast. narrative has been intensely
ians, and by ana
literary critics (especially structuralists). by histor
y from these dis
lytic phHosophers of history. I have profited greatl
and making use
cussions even though I shall be discussing narrative
of it in a way that differs from most of them.
with a phe
The focus on narrative is not as such incompatible
s with that
problem
deeper
nomenological approach, but there are
are tied,
gations
approach, in my view. The phenomenologists' investi
nce.
experie
ual
for importa nt methodological reasons , to individ
and
ce,
While 1 think it is necessary to start with individual experien
under
shall do so in what follows, I believe that w e are unable to
stand the necessarily social dimensions of bistoricity until we go
beyond individual experience in a way methodologically precluded

by phenomenology. As 1 shall try to show in chapter V, to the extent


that we genuinely get beyond the individual's experience, we must

also move beyond phenomenology.


White the shift to the social dimension requires this move, it is the
discussion of narration that renders it possible. Central to the analy
sis of stories and story-telling. apart from the temporal unfolding of
events, is the relation among the points of view on those events
belonging to characters in the story, the teller of the story, and the

audience to whom the story is told. Further nuances involve distinc


tions between the real and the implied narrator and the real and the
implied audience of a story. While these notions will prove useful in
elucidating the historical character of the individual's experience,
they will also permit us to detach the crucial notions of subject of a
story-and teller of a story-from the individual, and place both at

the social levei.


As 1 have said, this move in lhe later chapters of our study to the

social levei, with the help of a theory of narrative, takes the analysis

beyond "phenomenology" as 1 have been using this term so far in this

introduction (and as it is usually used in contemporary discussions),

that is, to refer roughly to Husserl and his twentieth-century suc

cessors such as Heidegger and Ma.rice Merleau-Ponty. But we shall

see that by its means we shall move, by a round-about route, into the

domain of that earlier phenomenology-Hegel's-which is at once so


near to and so far from what Husserl was doing. Without adopting

the central tenets of a Hegelian approach to philosophy in general. or

Time, Narrative, and


His tory
y, we shall be able to mak e use
even to histor
of Wh
at H
the We that is l"S-in o
ege l
ther Wor
"the 1 that is We,
ds
, lhe
subject
of
ive
collect
action
and
,
expe rience
social
id Ca)J
.
, and
.
ea"'eQ
hist rt.
move beyond md'iv1'd uai s
"Ia
o
will perm1t us to
ubJec . .
.
. 'l'l .
v
.,,

h tty ..1
e 'd
thou 1
ing behind aJtogether th 1. ea of su b'Jectiv ity itse]
t Q
f lbe
13
COrn bi
of phenomenology, narrat1ve theory, and Hege 1.
n a ti o
.
ian
. d'
Phe
t
n
amve
a
an
m
to
o
1spensabl e co
. .
rne n 1 li
wiJI permit us
nd Jhon
0 0....
.
for o
'
e
1
th
d
ea
1story:
h
o
f
of
a
ing
ur ,....
soci
stand
al subJect

"'d--
that .
movable, and above ai l d evelopmentaJ.
1s fle .ber.
Jci
le,
I hope in this brief preview to have given read
ers som
e
i.dea
to expect and of what I fer:ently hope they wiJI
of w
not e
h
P
can
quahfy
follows
as a philosophi
that what
ect. J be at
fl
caJ
J ev
ec
t
o
th
re
t n on h 1 e
but it is not "philosophy of history" in any of
ist
e usual
scnse

term. Nor is it to be identified as 8 bit of


s
of
pheno m
en
ology
narrow sense-nor, for that matter, a bit
in t
of concep
tuaJ an y h. e1
literary theory, "narratology," or whatever Wh .1
a
J
i e i dra w

gtatef
work done in ali of these fields and with
u
lJ
y
ali these m
on
.
.
ethods,
seeks to establ1sh 1ts su b'Ject matter on its
rny
.
.. L
0
..
w
n and to
ar._
.
.
e1iar t
methodolog1cal course. II it thus runs
its ""'
the risk of s
.
....
.
eeming
an d met hodologica 11y eclectic, I
toa diff
would prefe r
i,
.
--:
t hat r1s
k to th
posed by a pre determm
ed methodologic
.
e
o
al Sua
ne
- i.tJa
cket I sh
that 1 am neither a historian (except
ouJd a
in 8 mod est
dd
.
sense, of
phy) nor a wr1ter of or expert on
Philoso..
Jiterary narrat .
ives
. At best
philosophically reflective and
1 "'
admiri'ng read
"' a
er of b0th
These prefatory remarks wil

l also ser v
s an exp
exc se for the fact that 1 see
lanation

m to take so
and
o
g
to get r
sub ect matter history. I
und to my
have

o
explai
.
ned that I a
'.
m look1ng
behmd h1stoncal inqui
as it were
ry to its roots .
.
.
m
.
ord
mary
even there 1 find 1t
expe
nen
necessary to spea
ce. But
'
k at some J
m
t abo
d iv1duai experience
eng tu
ut o ur
of
the
p ast and of
.
.
t'ime m
gethng on to that of
general befo
the historic al
re
st and historica
shall tal k a good

l tirne, just as J
deal about storyte mg and
at the levei of
narrative in
individual expe .
pene
ral and
.
.
'
nence' bef ore
the spec
commg to narra
1fic ally historic
tive in
al sens e. I h
ope th at what
contribute, alo
I have to say
ng the way to
will
o r und ersta
ence and exis

ndi ng of indiv
tence' but ;h
idua
.
l
experie d1scu ss1o
nary ehara
n w'Jl
1 have a certa
cter until
.
in
.
prelimi
.
it
finds Its ra1s
.
h1st ory Th
on d'"t
e re m the discu
us the pres
ssi
on
of
ent study, th
.
ough it hard ly
quali fies as a story,
__
.
6

"'

:i::
'

;:

ri

5. G. W.
F. He l
Phenom
Presa, 197
enology of
7), p.
.
Spirit ' tr A.
V. Miller (Oxford:

1.'

Clarendon

.,

Introduction

lived time, narrativa,


illustrates one of the most important features of
the way: name ly,
along
and history itself that we shall be discovering
g and the

egmnm
b
the
that only from the perspective of the end do
middle make sense.
2.

follow
The foregoing remarks have been designed to introduce the
relation
in
them
ing study by stating its basic questions and situating
be
to other philosophical problems and methods. A word needs to
said now, for the further orientation o f the reader, about previous
work related to my subject.

I have said that in order to contribute to the philosophical under


standing of history 1 shall be speaking about narrative and its relation
to historical time. The connection between narrative and history has

been a lively subject of debate among English-speaking philosophers

and historians since the mid-1960s, when works by W. B. Gallie,

Morton White, and Arthur Danto appeared almost simultaneously.6

All three emphasized the role of narrative in the historian's work and

were subsequently criticized for this emphasis by some philosophers

and historians. Placing so much emphasis on narrative was seen as a

too "literary" view of a discipline which sought to be objective and

scientific. 7 The narrative conception of history was strongly de


fended against those attacks, notably by the historian J. H. Hexter
and the philosopher Louis Min.k. e
The literary study of narrative has of course had a long history,
with significant developments in recent y ears. The work of Way n e

Booth and Kenneth Burke, Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg, and
especially of Frank Kermode are regarded as classics in Anglo-Amer

ican criticism.9 The work of the Canadian Northrop Frye concen-

6. Morton W hle. Fo ndatlons of Historical Knowledge


(New York, Harper A: Row,
1965); W. B. Galhe, Ph1losophy and Historical Understanding
(London: Chatto and
.
Wmdus, 1964)'. Arthur C. Oanto, Anolytical Philosophy
of History (Cambridge: Cam
bridge Unlvers1ty Press, 1965
7. See Maurice Mandelbaum, "A Note on lst ry as
Narrativa," History ond Theory

6 (1967)._ 416-417, and eon Goldsteln, Histori


cal Knowing (Austln: University of
Texas Press. 1976), espec1ally the introduction.
J. H. Hexter, !he History Primer (New York: Baslc Books
..H1stor
, 1971); Louis o. Mink,
y and flchon as Modes of Comprehension,"
ln New Uterory History 1 (1970).
541-58.
9. Wayne Booth, The Rhetoric of Fictio
n (Chicago: Universlty of Chicago Pre
1961); Kenneth Burke, A Grommar of
Motives (New York: Meridian Books
, 196

};

8
trat es

Time. Narrotive, ond History

heavilv on narrativa struct ure. ' And th e r1se


.
..,.,
V{ f:'
. t ho 1ast. twunty -e
y th
m

oory
)- ars h
structuralist literar
.
&s fe&t1.1 l\N..
' '
"li
na
M'dtt\'e. Bu1 ldtng on the earli .
1'ed
strong emphas.is on
'Yor k of '
such as Vladimir Propp and
European Jinguists.
a
principally Roland Bart hes A 1lll n lak0
the Fronch theorists.
Gre1lll&s-

'
ha\-e pro duced significa nt stu des
...d
Claude Bremond.
of
\\
structure.''
development, philosophy of hist
These two lines of
d
allel. without much reciprocai . nry n theol\,
of literature ran par
.,
ce
ue
ln
\.
d en un...
.
n
n nate;") Metah1 story in 197
11
the appearance of Hay
whose author is neither 8 p h 1.1 3 Thi tremely influential book.
080Pher l'lot 4

. by trammg

but a h'astonan
of ideas d
Jiterary cr1tlc
Ws on Uie
ll
analysis of literar)' narratives, especia y those of t e ru t
5
ralists
and ol Northrop Frye, and applies them in dcta il to
Ci
cla ssical historians and philosophers of history of th

ll&trau

'

sUnlil

":111ll8s
n eteenth
: 0ntro.
s:
"asi
n: tb
tratJon.

century. As might be expected, White's book too has p


versial, u but on the whole it has provided support for t e
those philosophespecially Gallie and Mink-who

oi

the narrative character of historical writing, by supplyi


ein
both a theoretical underpinning and a richly detailed .11
1
Something similar has been dane quite rocently in 8 boo
y ui
R.icoeur.14 The French philosopher draws on his own th
eoretictJ
. li y 11terary language and hi
L on 1angu.age, e spec1a
wor
.
fs xtensive
knowledge of the analytic philosophy of actio and o h i
story

p roduce

a strong de fense for and account of the narrative eharacterO(

' Wh'1te he t h en applies his theory to the


h'1story . L'k
work of histo.
1
nans; but, an a bold strok e, he applies it not to tho g
:roat e e s lctl

h.1stonans but to the recent social history of the Fr cnc.h ru1no


.a Ies
sehool; ln othe r words, to those historians whose worlc appe
ars to be,

u:i
:::::: ::::r

Scholes and Robert Kellogg, The Noture of Na rotlY&


(New York Oxford
r
Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Endina (New York; Oxford

Universi
10. Northrop Frye The Anotomy of Cr111c1sm
.
.
{Pr1nceton:
Prlncetlln

Preu. 1957i

Unlvenlty

11. Roland Barthea Introductlon I'ana 1


se structurale des rcita.'' Communle4
tion1 8 (1966) t-21.' CIau d8 B remond Log1que
du lt (Par1 Seuli 1973); A ',.
Gre1mas, Smonllque slructuroI (Pa .
"
ns. 'Larousse, 1966i
12 Hayden Wh't
.
1 "
ohulory
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Unlversltv
. Prosa. 1973
13.. See Hi ..
Ory ond 'neot)'. vol XIX no. 4 B et'h
eft 19: Metah istory: Slx Crlllqun
(Middletown Wesleya U ntve.rs
.
1Y Press. 1980
.
14. Paul R i coeur
et r t T me 1 (Paris: Seull. l 983i An Engllsh translation
i . o
bas Pi>eared: Tim ond o
rrohve vol. 1, tr. K. Mclaughlin and O. Pelli1uer (Chiato:
University oi Chica go
Pte
1984i Slce thls wrltlng two further volumea havt
r ' tlJ
Pi>eared: Temps et
1 0 configurat1on d o ns /e rcit de fiction (Pirli: Seull. t984l
and Temps et rcit
e emps rocont6 (Paris: Seul!, 19asi

M.:l

Tu

UJl

lntroducrio11

tor. Rlcocur
ls solf-proclnlmed to bo, non-narrotlvo ln charnc
l cvcn ln
proson
11
ro
clalms that ln hlddcn forrn tho normtlve structu

and

their work.

ot lho bogln
Puttlng this brlof survoy togothor wlth what wns said
tho rolntion bo
ning of thls introductlon. it should bo oasy to soo
focus of thoso
The
t.
twoon this prcvlous work and tho prosont projcc
luts boon lho
ro,
studios of narratlve, whothor ln h.istory or ln lltorntu
a story Is told
writton work (books, artlclos, novols, plays) ln which
in mony cnses
about tho past or about fictional evunts. Tu be suro,
propnr by tho
quostions are asked (though thls Is not considorod
so that the
story,
tho
structurolisls) about how tho author conslruclod
g it.
crootln
ln
act
examination Is shlfted from thc texl to tho aulhor'5
struc
not lhe
Many of th eso studles, moroovor-though agnin
vc ond the
nnrrati
the
n
botwee
rolution
turalists'-are lntorostod ln tho
n for
occosio
lhe
and
n,
attenlio
events it portrays. But at tho conter of

lt, is lhe norratlve as a text.


as Mlnk and
The "narratlvlst" philosophers of history such
by Mouric e
H. White have boen roundly critlclzod, ospoci ally
ossonce of his
Mandelbaum and Leon Goldstoln, 111 for mlssing the
of dlscov
work
hord
tho
over
tory by favoring its lilorary prescnlotlon
d lt.
bchin
lios
whlch
ery. explanation, evnluation of sources, etc.,
lined
dlscip
but a
Hislory, say lhose crltics, is not a litorary gonro
thu wuy
moroly
Is
ivo
Narrat
odgo.
knowl
Is
lnquiry whose goel
n up" for
indeod only one way-ln which lts results aro "writto

public consumptlon.
y is sintilur. but
My own rosponse to tho narrative analysis of histor
led from whot 1 sald
with an lmportant difference, as might bo oxpoc
/rom tho IHoral'y
earlier. 1 too want to shift the focus "backword"
to tho hlstorlon's
products, but neithor to lho eulhor's cruotive act nor
tho lutter to tho
OVOt\
d
boyon
Is
roeus
sciontific procedure. Instead my
both.
es
procod
historlcal expcrionce that tios bohlnd cmd
tute a critl<.:ism of
The shlft of focus 1 am proposlng doos nol constl
loln. ln fact, whnt
the narrotlvlsts llke that of Mundolbaum und Golds
lons. For if 1
I shell do mey provido a rusponso to lhoso critics' objoct
os our vory oxpo
am rlght ln lhlnkJng thol nerrutivc slruclure porvud
tly of our con
ondon
lndep
rlonce of time and social exlstonce.
hove a wuy of
sholl
wo
templating the past as hislorlans, thon
but window-drosslng
answoring the charge that narrotlvo is nothlng
odgo of the pnst.
ar peckaglng, something lncidontol to our knowl
dtud eliove.
t!I. SM Mandullium'I 1nd Gold1tt1ln wor._,

Tune. Narro:tive. and


H1story

1V

But here J nm np against OUrious resistanae


S:tl'o on
oarratirists themselves. or at least some af th e
t.o the view that narrati?e is an_3"thin.g but a

th!!

:
::?' t:b.:t.
"'e.

'

llte Il&est e.nm

resmanoe becomes evident "''hen these theorist:s


ity c:I narratives to represem the events of th e past llsider
Writing c:I "'Narratire Form as a C-ogni tive lnstni
Mink
c:I our implicit

speaks

presupposition17

thattnt.

a:,

lollig

C\to

rativeS tell what really happened, in the sense that th

untold stoIY in the past waiting to be tolclta Th.is :re lS a b\ie b:it
principal way we distinguish historicaJ from fic
tionailS, he
l11e
narrath-e structure. p articularly the dosing off of llarrati "es . \'ei
sequenee ft
ewmts provi ded by lhe storys beginru ng and
..

end

hoe S'lru

derived from the telling of the story itself, not


relates.Even the '"'events,.. as real occurrences of the
rognitively suspect when we realize that we cannot

e\>ents h

!beco

but onJy to events under a descnption"te and events


escri tion is a function of the narrat ive the even ts make that the
narrative form in history, as in fiction, is an artfic e, e
8tn
th
c
imagination . 20 So historical narrative Presen
a
as histo cal it claims to represent. througb its
ci the real comp1extty of the past. but as narrative it is a rod Plrt
Uc:t <
P
.
.
.
canno t d e f end its claim
constructi on wh"ch
rmagmative
1
to truth by
of argum ent or authentication. 21
any
As for the past, "there can in fact be no untold stories at aU, just
15
there can be no unknown knowledge. There can be only past
as

such.

individual
dilemma:

p..
t:'r:nu'lth

..

acc.epted procedure

..

facts
not yet described in a context of narrative form."22 As he puts
it in
other essay: stories are not lived but told. Life has no beginnings,

m1ddles and ends....Narrative qualities are transferred from art


to
life ."2

Mink is saying, then, that narrative is constitutionally unable to


represent "life" (the real events and actions of the past} be cause of lhe

nanative fonn itself.This form is a "produ ct of individual imagina.


tion" which arises from the historian's act of telling and has no part
as a Cognitive lnstrument" in The Wrilin& r4
ed. R. H. Canary and H .Kozicki (Madison: University of Wisconsin Prets.

16. Louis O. Mink, "Narrative Fonn

.
Hatory,

1978i
17. lbid p. 147.
18. lbid., p. 143.
19. Ibid., p. 145.
20. lbid.
21. lbid.
22. lbid., p. 1 47.
23 Mink, Hlslory and

..

"

Fiction as Modes of Comprehenslon," pp. 55 7-5&.

fntroduction
in the events naITated. Namitive imposes on the events

fonn that in themselves tbey do not ha\-.e..

lt

ol the past

There is some irony in Mink's a.rriving at this view, since he scems


at 6rst to be continuing e tradition whose purpose was to defend t.h-e

cognitive pretensions of traditional, natTative history.. The positivist

analysis of historical knowledge put forward by Carl Hempel Sl>,g

gested that history could become a respectable body of knowledge if


only it would cast off its vague and .. literary" form end get down to

rigorous causal explanations., thereby assuming the form of natural

science. ln other words, it was the fonn of historical discourse

{typically narrative) which prevented it from being genuine knowl

ed,ge of tbe past. William Dray, drawing on earlier work by R. G.

Collingwood (and helped along by the }ater Wittgenstein's pluralism

of language games). argued that history should be seen as employing

its own modes of explanation-principally reconstructing the rea

sons rather than giving the causes of human ection. 23 The .. nar

rativists" of the 1960s then further refined the idea of history's auton

omy vis--vis the natural sciences by emphasizing the activity of

constructing a story. By speaking of historical narratiw as a "modo of

c omprehension" and a "cognitive instrument," Mink secms to be


pursuing the sarne line. ln the end, however, he seems at least to

suggest the sarne conclusion reached by the positivists. The very


form of historical discourse undermines its epistemic pretentions.

H Mink exhibits some reluctance in arriving at such skeptical

conclusions, Hayden White embraces them boldly. Like Mink, he

raises lhe question of narrative's capacity to represent: in a reccnt

article he asks after "the Value of Narrativity in the Representation of

Reality"26 and concludes.in essence, that its value is nil. Developing


ideas that were implicit but not directly stated in Metahistory. he

conveys his view in a series of loaded questions: "What wish is

enacted, what desire is gratified," he asks, "by the fantasy that real

events are properly represented when they are shown to display lhe

formal coherency of a story?"27 "Does the world really present itsolf

to perception in the form of well-made stories ... ? Or doos it pre-24. Carl C. Hempel, "The F\inction of General l..aws ln Hltory," The /oumol o(
Philosophy (1942) and "Explanatlon ln Sclence and Hlstory" ln Fronllen o( Sclence
ond Philosophy, ed. R. Colodny (Pittsburgh: Unlverslty o( Pttsburgh Prosa. 1962
25. William Dray. "'The Hlstorlcel Explanatlon of Actlona Roconsldered" ln Phil<no
phy ond Hislory, ed. S. Hook (New York: New York Unlvel'1lty Presa. 191\3
26. Hayden White, "The Value of Narrativlty ln lhe RepreHntatlon of Reallty" ln On
Norrolve, ed. W. J. T. Mltchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981
27. lbid., p. 4.

Time, Narrative, and History

l2

the way that the annals an d eh


.
sent itself more in
.
.
ron1cJ
es
h
out
b
w1t
egm
ce
sequen
ning
Sup.,
or end or
either as a mere
1
a
s
s e esi
.
e
t
na
t
d
an
erm
y
never co ncl

ude? ":!e quenee '


of beginn ings that
For \An . 8
1
on
that
not
e
sequ
1
ence
Th
s
clear:
of rea
the answer is
.
events n11e
f t he stones we teJJ abo u t i
Po ss
.
the formal attribut.es o . .
mag1 nar
ess
.
.
h es, dayd ream
w1s
m
ongm
Y
1ts
have
s l'eVerj .,evellts
could only
es.
) es th at offer us the
hromc
lt .
"parad i.
precisely annals and e
ns
of
gi
to percepti on."2 9 ln a com men
itself
offers
reality
that
t o n th
JS
e PaPeq
L M'm k summarizes White 's \r
.
have been quoting, oms
. i ew 1n th
proposi tions : "(l) That the world is not given to us ln the
.
f
ma ke uch stories ; (J)
0trn Of
wel l-made stns; (2) that
that
.
5 we
that
unagmmg
by
y
m
give
them th e wor)
them referentJabt
d
Peaks it.
self" (that is, that they teJJ the untold story, in Mink 's ear 1.1e fo
r
.
.
.. rrnuJa.
tion); and Mmk says that w1th these three proposition ,
.
s I enr1
1'ely
agree. "3 He goes on to d isagree with a fou rth prop . .
os1tio
n
.
Con.
for constructmg such stories ; Whit
the motive
cernmg

e be 1.1
Ves lhe
.
"moral
authority"
establish
while Mink still
motive is to
insists on
a
a d eeper d isagreem
'
cogmt1ve mot1ve. Bu t th ere 1s
ent Min k do
es n t
.
of narrahve
m

Mmk p1aces the ong


notice.
expl icitl y in " the . . . 0
ind iid.
uai imagination" of the author whereas White, as quoted
' traces li to
s. " Th1s may seem 8 subtle
"w1s hes, dYdreams, revene
differenc
.
e
but the sh 1ft 1s away from the sort of conscio us "creative
" act M1nk
. '
.
.
,
suggests. Th 1s ties m w1'th Wh'1tes earlier theoMI in Me
to h 1story
J

and
.
1es wntten at t he sa rne period,3 1 that historia n d
arhc
8 .raw o th
n e
"p1 ot-structures" i d entified by Northrop Frye as Roma n ,
ce, eomed'
.
'Irage dy, and Sat1re. But they do not do so consciouslv
, . of course
smce th e th mk of th emselves as tellin g us simp
ly wie es eigentlic
.
gewesen; m fact they would vehemently
deny such Jiterary msp1ra

.
rJon. These P1 ot-structu res are simply "cu l tu ra
Hy provided ruies for
story-telling"32 m
Western culture, and writers of narrative
seize on
.
them w1thout rea l izi ng they are doin
g so .
Thus when Mink asserts that he and Whit
e hold the view that "we
ake such stories" he may
be overlooking a difference of opi nion on
JUSt WhO "we " are, a n d
what constitutes "mak ing." We. shall have
.
occas1on to return to th is
pom
. t. ror
r::o our present purposes, however, il

wa1:8

28. Ibid .. p. 23.


29. lbid.

30. Mink "Everym


i te, Me t
See
Clio 1 (1972): 5-1 9 .

l.

Wii

ff

Her
Ow An list" in ibid., p. 238 .
is ;,or
y, pp. 7-8, a d

The Structure of Histori::al Narraove.

32. White . "Th e


Structure of Histo
rical Narrativa," p. 1 7 .

13

Introduction

i s more important t o stress what they do agree on: that the narrativa,

as a literary artifact produced by historians, reads into tha reality of

the past a narrative structure that the past does not "really" have .

That Mink and White should hava taken the analysis of history in

this skeptical diraction attests to tha importance for both of the

parallal between historical and fictional narrativa. And if we look to

some of the most influantial studies of literary narrative mentioned

above, we shall see evidence of tha sarne view on the relation ba

twean narrativa and the real world. To be sure, fictional stories do not

represent reality bacause what they portray by definition nevar hap

pened. But it is oftan thought that storias can be lifa-Jike precisely by

virtua of their form. That is, they are capabla of representing the way

cartain events, if they had happened, might have unfolded.

But to attribute narrative coherence to real events is, according to

some theorists, wishful thinking at best. As F. Kermode puts it in The


Sense of an Ending: "ln 'making sense' of the world we . . . feel a

nead to experience that concordance of beginning, middle and end

which is the essence of our explanatory fictions . . . . "33 But such

fictions "degenerate," he says, into "myths" whenever we actually

believe them or escriba their narrative properties to the real, "whan

ever they are not consciously held to be fictive."34 As for the struc

turalists, it is ganerally not dane to speak of a relation batwean text

and world, either for methodological reasons or bacausa tha real

world is thought to ba so unstructurad as to be incapable of being

spoken of at ali. lt seems that tha latter view may motivate the
methodological principie, if we consider tha few remarks that

are

let

fall on the relation between story and world. Seymour Chatman, in

his valuable presentation of structuralist theories of narrative, also

speaking of the beginning-middle-end structure, insists that this

structure applies "to the narrative, to story-evants as imitated, rather

than to . . . actions thamsalves, simply because such terms are mean


ingless in the real world."35 ln this he echoes his principal mentor

Roland Barthes. ln bis influantial "Introduction l'analyse struc

turale des rcits" Barthes says that "art knows no static"; that is, in a

story everything has its place in a structure while tha extraneous has

been elimi nated, and that in this art differs from "life," in which

33. Kermode, pp. 35-36.


34. lbld.. p. 39.

Universlty Press,
35. Seymour Chatman, Story ond Discourse (Ithaca: Cornell
19 78). p. 47.

Time, Narrati ve, and Hist


ory

14

.
" (com m uni
everything is "scrambled messages
cat 1on s b
.
ld
Barthes thus evokes t he o questJo n abou t the reJat io frou 111e81
n
o . art a i
h ve, as d oes Min k, a n d ar
wi th respect to narra
rives
.
.
.
11t th elld life
ti
conclusion: t he one is constJtu onall y incapabl e of ''
rePre ""
senr1
the other.
118'
Ricoeur
Paul
draws
that
toget
her the t
We noted
u dy
of fite
narrative and the analytic philosop hy of history
he Pl'
esen
his Temps et rcit a complex theory of narrative' w ich

i.s
uprio8 llJ

r
with
s
spect
neutral
to
re
the disti n c i on
initially to be
betwee
8eti
.
n his
t
and fiction. And for R 1coeur, too, the probl em of re r
es
.
P e11ttio ory
seen m the fact that
n is
centra1 importance. Th.is is
Of
the key1
'
o
e 1
nc
c
p 111
Ricoeur's account is that of m imesis derived from Ar1st
ot e 8 P
,

oetics
At first R1coeur s theory seems to run counter to the
'Phasis
the
others
on
discontinuity
in
have found
between
a ive
"real world." ln his studies of Janguage and litera t . and lhe
' Ri coeur has
long resisted the structuralists' denial of ali conn t
io bet
ween a
text and the world beyond. ln Temps et rcit he put n
h
e structu

raJ
"co figu a t'1n 1" a1spct of narrahve m
a central posit n b
io
ut in or
51Sts
on s1 t uatmg 1t m re atlon to the world of human 8 et 10n
'
from wh'e
h it
is drawn, and on which it has its effects as it is read an
d aprei.ated
.
It is for this reason that Ricoeur maintain s the( ter.r;!
Jesis, but
he declines to translate the term "representation" or
1m1tation"J' ior
he bel.teves t he re1ation between the narrative and its
.
world is much
more comp 11cated t han t h at traditio nal translation
sugg1 ests. ln work.
lng out how this is so he reveals himsel f to be much c
os er to Mini,
White, and the structuralists than he at first appears
He does not go
so far as to say w1t
h them that the world of action is si m 1 h .
P Y e aohc
.
m alntammg

mstea

d t hat 1t has a "pre-narrati ve structu re "31 of eie.'


ents tat lend temselves to narrative configuratio
ns. ln particular
mnh
te conceptual network" provided by the "semantics
f achon.
Litrature, he says, "vient configurer ce qui, dans l'ac
.
1on huma1ne, fa1t dj figure. "39
.
Yet this pre-figurat'o
1 n is
not 1tse

lf narrative structure and it doe&


not save us from what Ricoeur seems
to regard as a sod oi constitu
.
.
tional d1sa
rray atta ched to th e exper1ence
of time, which in ilself is
..
conlused, unformed and, at the
limit, mute. "40 From a stu dy oi

.
.

:
:

0;

36.
37
38.
39.

.
Barthea "lntroduct1on

RIcoeur. p. 113.
lbid., p. 88.
fbfd . p. 100.
40. lbid., p. 13.

1 analyse

..

p 7

Introduction

15

Augustine's Confessions he concludes that the experience of time is


characterized essentially by "discordance. " Literature, in narrative
form, brings concord to this "aporia" by means of the invention of a

plot. Narrativa is a "synthesis of the heterogeneous" in which dispa


rate elements of the human world-"agents, goals, means, nterac
tions, circumstan ces, unexpected results, etc. "41-are brought

together and harmonized. Lfke metaphor, to which Ricoeur has also


devoted an important study, narrativa is a "semantic innovation" in
which something new is brought into the world by means of lan

guage. 42 lnstead of describing the world, it re-describes it. Metaphor,


"the
he says, is the capacity of "seeing-as. "43 Narrative opens us to
realm of the 'as if. ' "44

So in the end for Ricoeur narrative structure is as alien from the


"real world" as it is for the other authors we have been discussing.
of
Ricoeur echoes Mink, White, et al. when he says: "The ideas
are
They
e:
experienc
from
taken
beginning, middle, and end are not
not traits of real action but effects of poetic ordering. "45 U the role of
it
narrative is to introduce something new into the world, and what
it
bly
presuma
then
eous,
heterogen
the
introduces is the synthesis of
e have.
attaches to the events of the world a form they do not otherwis
what,
were
it
if
as
it
describes
it
is,
that
A story redescribes the world,
presumably, in fact it is not. &

shows not
This brief survey of important recent views of narrative
a feature
as
strictly
ed
consider
being
only that narrativa structure is
struc
that
that
said,
we
as
also,
but
of literary and historical works,
various
The
works.
such
to
only
ture is regarded as one that pertains
that stories or
approaches to the problem of representation reveal
world they
real
the
from
ed
separat
to,
histories are considered alien
that
follows
It
itself.
form
e
narrativ
the
of
e
profess to depict becaus
e"
"life-lik
be
really
,
reasons
ral
structu
for
,
cannot
fictional narratives
biogra
as
such
es,
narrativ
tional
non-fic
other
or
and that historical
their subject
phy, journalism, etc . . must inevitably impose upon
n dresses up
vizatio
narrati
best
At
s.
posses
not
does
it
matter a form
and, if we really
reality, reflecting our need for satisfying coherence,
"escape" from
an
is
It
g.
thinkin
l
wishfu
from
believe it, derives
41. lbfd p. 102.
(Paris: Seuil, 1975).
42. lbld., p. 1 1 . See Rfcoeur, La Mlaphore vive
ore vive, pp. 305-21.
43. Temp el rcll, p. 13. See La Mroph
.

44. Temps et rcll, p. 101.


lbfd. , p. 67.

45.

rcll vol. 1. see my review-essay in


46. For a longer crflical analysis of Temps el
3, (1984): 357-70.

Hislory and Theory XXJll:

nme. Narra tivu. and Histo ry

16

.
is an i'dea pu t forwa rd b
t (and this
y ll
wo
At
reality.
White7 ) narrative seeks to put acros 8 rth&$
s
.
.
Illorl) ,11d
.
picked up bY.
rests of power and m ampul ation
"l"'

inte
the
m
ld
"
wor

of the
h
av
theor1sts
e
cont
these
.
ributed .h-o
. w is that whi le
., U ch
.
My v1e
t
have m1sund ers t ood
hey
t
ativa
narr
of
its
o
1 o llt
-o
dn
a
n
underst
t
. g th e d iscon
& iI\ t
re
.
'
t mu1ty
'
..
1 WO ld .. By stressm
be twn
v
u
r
the "rea
ltt
"
tive, they have not only mis cast
regards narra .
the t tnd
.
.. 1l. fe. as
elat
the m1sun ders tan dmg ol both terms
i uted to
es p.... : ton
but contr'b
1
'"' Jy
the latter.
.
.
. g t he contmu1ty bet
l be stressm
ween nur
rati.Ve
As I sal'd , 1 sha l
.
nt
w1ll
ot
take
accou
the
nd
my
for
but
m
.
life
of
yday
c
l
ever
aitns 8 &
Ut
istorica narrahves ..represent . " Inste
ad 1
how literary and h
a
of
U
features
every
narrahve
day exporie
begin by uncovering
nce ll
.
.
ll
.
d
wmg a certam commu mty of fo.r
action. u 1 succeed in sho.
m bet
account
my
m
n
may have so e
" life" and written narrahves.
irn p
.1c:a
.
on
i
representati
of
But
that
problem
s not m y
.
tions for tbe
.
ini11,1
.
concem. To the extent t hat 1 discuss narrahve at all in it s l
it
. erary
guise, I shall be stressing the fact that it arises out of an
d lS P
re.
.
an d communi cat ion .
figured in certain features of l t' fe, achon,
H'istor.
.
.
ical and fi ctlonal narrahves w1 11 revea 1 t h emse )ves to be not
d'1stor.
.
.
.
hons of, demais of, or escapes from reahty, but extensi ons and
e

r
urations of its primary feat ures.

ln my survey of theories which stress the d isconti n uity


between
.
.
narrahve and reah ty 1 have presented the views
of some of

t
h
strongest and most influe ntial thinkers in recent
literary theory
philosophy of history. But while the disco ntinu
ity view predo i.
nates . tbere are dissent ing voices. One of
the mos t eloq uent is th
l i terary critic Barbara Hardy, who hold
s that "narrativa, like )yric
. not to be
dance, is
regarded as an aesthetic inventio
n usE:d by artlsts
to control, mam. pulate, and orde
r experience , but as a primary
act of
.
mmd transferred to art from
life. The novel merely heighton isola
s,
tes
ad a alyses the narrativa

mot i ons of human con sci ous ss." The


ne
4
h1stonan Peter Mun z,
.
m The Sh apes of
Time' has also 's tr essed the
.
.
contmu
1tY between narrative and
everyday life .& The German ph i
1osoph

er Wilhel m sehapp,
a renegade phenomenologist writing in

:
;

47 See e&peci11ly Barth


es'a essay "Hl sto .
luralism ld. Mich
ncal Discourse" Jn lntrodui:lion to
Srrucael Lane (New
.
York: Basic Books ,
48. Barbara Hardy "li
1970)
pp. 1 4S-55 .
o
'
p. .
rd a
ln Nol 2
(1968 ). s wa s Poet lcs oi Fiction: An A pproa ch throllgh Narratlve. "
49. Peter Mun
i' The Shape
s of Time
1977i
(Mldd letown: Wesleyan U nl vers lty PreJ,

17

lntroducllon

the 1950s, made t h e idea o f bolng caught up ln s tor l o s (ln


Geschichlon Vo rst rick t) tho key to a whole th oory oI hu rn u n oxlstonce
and much moro bosldes.so A chaptor oI Alasdalr Mnclntyro's A.flor
Virtue Is devotod to tho n arrati vo structure of human oxlstonc o. 1u
One of tho most dotailod and explicit dofenses of tho contlnuity

thesis is to bo found ln Frodorick Olafson's The Dialttclic of Actlon.5

I have made grateful use of ali these studles, some of whlch apponrod
since 1 began this project. Naturally I hopo to Improve on thom; I flnd
that each puts the emphasls on a dlfforent sido oI what 1 try to
prosent as the oveal l phenomenon. None succoods, ln my vl ew. ln
doing justice to the soci al dimonslon of narratlve whlch Is nocossary
for the full comprehonsion of hl st ory.
One further note: 1 must admlt that my p roc ed u ro may soem to
exhibit one mothodologically suspect feature. 1 aim to show that full

fledged literary story-telling arlsos out of life. But ln ordor to show

this 1 shall be examining life with constant referonce to a pregl vo n

"model" which is precise l y full-fledgod literary story-telling. The


dangor with ali "models" is that thoir use will distort the subjoct

matter it is thclr purpose to illumlnate. 1 ca n only loave it to the


reader to decide whother 1 have applied this model judiclously end

with ali appropriate and necessary qualifications.

50. Wilhelm Schapp . ln Geschichlen Verslrickl, 2nd ed. (Wlesbaden: 8. Hoymann,


A thlrd edltlon. with a foroword by tiermann Lbbe. h11 recently been pub

1976

lished by Vlttorlo Klostermann (Frankfurt, 1985).


51. Alasdalr Maclntyre, After Virture (Notre Dame: Unlverslty of Notre Dame Prese,

1981

52. Froderlck A. Olafson, The Dlal11ct lc of Action (Chlcaso: Unlverelty

Press.

1970).

of

Chlcaso

A M'

e
r
u
t
uc
tr
S
al
or
p
e
The T m
of
Experience and Action
e to
1. From Real Tim

Real Human Time

ing ou r intention to display and explore


We began by announc
ic
areness we ali have of the histor a l past. The
he pre th eo re ti cal aw
suggest an awareness not inforined by the
term p re t heo retical
like history but belonging to "ordi
cognitiva interest of a discipline
ry" refers simply to the lay person
nary experience," where "ordina
hera merely of the fact
who is not a historian. But we are not speaking
about the historica l
that the ordlnary person from time to time thinks
th eoretica l
past. The awareness we seek to describe is not only pre
-

"

"

the
but also "pre-thematic"; that is, it is an awareness in which
historical past is involved in ordinary experience even v1hen we are
not explicitly think ing about it. As we said, it has the char acter of a
11background., for present experience.
We have indicated that the place to look for this awareness of the
ure
ast is our ordinary experience of time and that the key to its nat
1s the n arrat'lve or story-telhng character of that experience. But we
.
have JUst encountered precise ly among some theorists who make the
,
stro ngest connection between narr
view t hat if
ativa and histor"
J the
od'inary
t
exprience has an identifiable
. .
and describable structure a
.
all t as certa1nly not
narrat i va structure. lt will be our purpose in
th.is ehapter then ' t0 '
d 15Pl ay son1ething of the temporal character of

18

The Temporal Strudure of Experience and J\etion

19

everyday experience in arder to show l$ relation to narrative struv


ture.

We shall not yet be speak.ing specifically of the historical pas1.

lndeed, huofar u we speak of the past at ali, it will be in the context


of a dscussion of temporality as a whole, the interconnection be
tween past, present, and future.

ln discussing the "representational" character of narrative, the


orists sucb as Mink and Hayden White are sometimes unclear on
exactly what it is in their view that narrative tries, but is constitu
tionally unable, to represent. ""The world," .. real events" are terms
they often use.But this way of speaking introduces a very misleading
equivocation. Narratives, whether historical or fictional. are typically
about, and thus purport to represent, not the world as such, reality as
a whole, but specifically human reality. But when the term "reality "
is left unqualified, we are tempted by the strong naturalist prejudice
that what counts as reality must be physical reality. What this sug
gests is either lhe random activity and collision of blind forces.
devoid of order and significance, or, alternatively, a reality totally
ordered along rigorous causal lines without a flaw or gap in its
mechanism. These two notions are of course incompatible with each
other, but what they have in common is the idea that in either case
..reality" is utterly indifferent to human concems. Things simply
happen, one after the other, randomly or according to their own laws.
Any significance, meaning, or value ascribed to events is projected
onto them by our concerns, prejudices, and interests, and in no way
attaches to the events themselves.
Another of the authors we quoted, Frank Kermode, invites us to
consider the ticking of a clock. When asked what it says, "we agree
that it says tick-tock.By this fiction we humanize it . .. Of course, it
.

is we who provide the fictional difference between the two sounds;


tick is our word for a physical beginning, tock our word for an end. "1
By bis use of the word "fiction" here, Kermode is suggesting that the
reality of the clock's sound is a "mere sequence" without structure or
configuration, and that the organization we assign to it in calling it
"tick-tock" is mere appearance, something in our minds with no
basis in reality. ln context, it is clear that the "fictional" narrative
structure Kermode has in mind is that associated with our literary
tradition.

very well
All this confuses the issue because, as these theorists

1.

Kermode, The Sense of an Ending, PP.

44-45.

Time, Narrativa, and History

20

esent or depict is n
kn ow, what stories and histories. repr
ot PUreJ
Y
uff
es
i
enc
,
per
act
ons
e
an
.
an
1
hum
d
x
s eri
but
.
s
physical events
ng
fi , 'in
ty o f pro 1ect ing mean1ng o nto
an achv1
or
d
cluding the hum
s
ts.
Thu
the
even
r
ph
othe
ysi
nd
ca
J
cal
world

meaning in physi
kas
bac
ays
dr
p
alw
or
sphere of o
o
, but
pera.
fi nd l'ts way into stories
.
.
h
t
h
at
an
ms
1t
um
see
n
Ji
But
rea
ty, i order
v1ty.
tions for human acti
to
.,
"
n
t
e
b
wee
art
t
an
tras
d
con
"life
p
shar
," is be
make good on the
g
i
the
of
tick
ng
del
mo
clo
the
to
g
ck.
rdin
Hay d
con stru ed acco
enti
as
d"
pres
ng
worl
e
th
itse
"
of
lf
as "a m
recall, speaks

::
:

White, we

ng or end" where it is clear that he is


sequence without beginni
but of huma n events of the sort se t
speaking not of phys ical events
es. 2
down in historical chronicl

n
s
But how plausible is the idea of huma event as n "me re se
e
quence"? Is this an accurate way to describ the temporal char acter

of the experiences and actions that make up our lives? Philosophers


in the phenomenoJogicaJ tradition, beg inni ng with Husserl, have
come up with very different results a n d ha ve developed some sophis

ticated conceptual means for describing the temporal features of our


experience.

Husserl asks what it is to experience a "temporal obje.ct," that is,


something that endures, like a steady tone, or s omething that
changes, Hke a succession of tones that make up a melody and thus

constitute an event. By considering purely auditory phenomena he

seeks to simplify his analysis, excluding the spatial aspec:ts of events

involving objects we see. Let us recall some of the salient features of


Husserl's analysis, limiting ourselves for the moment to the sort of
example he uses. Like him we shall adopt the first-person perspec
tive, describing the experience from the inside, as it appears to the
person who has it.3

2 H. White, "The Value


of N rrah v 1ty m the Repres entaUon of
3
Reality,
2
1,
3. What fo llows is 8 f
uss
en
H
ering of what 1 take to be the essentials of
r
er 5
theory. Occasionally 1
Phnomenologie des i: er the a de r to the primary sou rce, Edmund H usserl ,
n ei tbe wuss teins (1893-1917), ed. Rudolf Bo ehm. vo
ume X of Husserli
ana H
eI 5 co llecte d works {The Ha e; Mar tinus Nijhoff. 1966
A small part of
gu
thi ; ma e ria l
has been tr anslated {E dmund H uss erl, Th Phe
,f
non,tenology of Inter a
.
ni
glO
-Cons ci ou s ne ss, t . James S
Indiana Universi
. Churchilf (B Joom1n
r
ty Press
nd
pa renthese s to
he
w re possi bl e l inc lude a page reference in
the transi ron4J), a
. Fo r c omm e n tari es that a re much cJos er to the tt.
19a drs are referred to
t
/lon
st work i n En gl i :
editations {Evanston: No
sh R obert So k o lowski, Husser
th
r
st
n
Emergence of
r ni vers it y Pre s s 19 74) eh. 6; and John Brosh
,
an Absolut Ce
nsclous ness," M
an ond Worl o(nsc1 ousness in Husserl 's EarJy WrWngs on Tuned

,. p.

Zr
-

.
';;

1:!

V 19 72).

Tha Temporal Strucfure of E.xperience ond ktfon

21

2. The TemporoJity of &xJMrrienc.e

The smp,le J>MCeption (or sensation}-plus.memory

account

is

fairly standard one ln dealing with our con.sdousness of ongoing


events. like melodies. and H usserl credits his teacher Franz Bnmtano
with having seen that memory ca.nnot be treated. in Humean fasbion.
as

giving us merely the weakened presence of tbe object; for weak

ened presence is st1 presence and does not equa1 pastness. But
Brentano does not go nearly far enough. for the notion of memory
does not give us all we need. As 1 hear the present note sound. l could
remember notes from different points in my past experience-yester
day or ten years ago-that have no connection with the note 1

am

hearing now. What is. unaccounted for is the just-pastness. the very
previousness of the previous note. in virtue of which 1 bear two notes

as a succe&sion-or. more precisely. in virtue of which 1 hear one


note as succeed ing the other. lf consciousness of th-e past is memo11.
then we must recognize here. says Husserl, a special sort of memory,
wbose object is the just-past whicb attacbes itself mmediately to lhe
presenL Thanks to this sort of memory, 1 bave consdousness not only
of the succession of notes which make up the melody. but of the very
presentness of the present: to hear tbe present note sound is to, be
conscious of its occurring or taking place; but its taking place is
precisely its taking the place of its pred ecessor . To be conscious of its
occurrence is to be conscious also of the "comet tail.. that trails
behind il 5 Husserl s great contribution here lies in his recognition of
this peculiar form of memory which he calls primary memory or
retention. and in the sha.rp distinction he makes between i t and
memory in the usual sense, secondary memory or recollection. It is
true that they are both consciousness of the past, but their functions
in the life of consciousness

are

entirely different.

The best way to understand retention is to tum, as Husserl does, to


the comparison between the experience o,f space and the experience
of time.6 Present and past function together in the perception of time
somewhat as do foreground and background or focus and horizon in
spatial perception. To see a thing is to see it against a spatial back
ground which extends behind it and away from it and from which it
. stands out. Seeing always ..takes in'' this background as well as the
particular object seen; that is, corresponding to the horizon is a
Husserl, Zur Phnomenologie, pp. 10-19 (29-tO}.
5. lbid., p. 30 (52}.
6. 1b1d PP. s (23). 31 cs2i

4.

e, and History
Time, Narrativ

22

t belon gs to every percep tion Ju


st a s
. usne ss tha
horizon-cons1o
there
( and no background
und
ro
ckg
ba
t
u
o
o
h
u
w1t
to
.
l bJ
is no obJ"ect
ect
elative), s o there is n o p er c ep
.
;
corr
are
t
u
ns
tio
.
a
.
no
o
tw
e
th
e
o
1
d
n
does not 1nc u e h orizo n-consc
10usn
ace which
sciousness of sp
e
ss.
r1
t the tempora l is expe enced b y u s 88 k
tha
sa
1
sser
Now Hu
y

o
fiel d the pr es ent i s its focu s and the 1USnd f
ufi eJ d " Jike the VlSU ai
t-pas
t
h it stands out. 7 Consc io
und a gainst whic.
u
s
kg
n
ro
ba
e
e

e
s
.
th
s of
forms
olve s retenhon a s t h e h or1zon-con scious
inv
Ys
wa
1
a
nt
n
es8
the prese
.
nd
ou
gr
of this back
.
of foreground and backg round , and their co
Tlus combination
.
.
present note (Hus ser l cali s 11 1mpressionarreof
ess
sn
ou
c1
1,, )
ns
co
.
lates,
zon,
past
hor1
t
the
go
o
of
ss
ma
usne
ke
cio
up our
.
and retentional cons
.
c
a
a
t
1
u
1ts
.
1ng,
occu
d
rre
soun
nce ar ha
melody's
Pexper1ence of the
,,
.
the
1n
.
note
a
usual
ber
s
ens
"remem
e
to
o
st,
f
that
pen1ng. By contra
1
.
.,
"
n
d
eco
or
ary
on
ecti
mem
ol
"rec
or
of
y") is to

word (Husserl speaks


,
en1ng
d
but
that
happ
no
is
id
t
happen.e
be conscious of an event that
to reproduce the melody's sounding,
It is, according to Husserl,
including ali its tempor al features.

with

"

Retention and recollection are thus two radically different ways of


being conscious of the past. Recollections come and go, whereas
retention belongs to ali experience. Returning to the parallel with

spatial perception once again: the past which 1 retain, like the spatial
background, is constitutive of the presence (note that the word has

both a spatial and a temporal sense) of my object; whereas recollec


tion is like my imagining an object somewhere else in space but not
within my visual field. ln the latter case, 1 .. call to mind" or render

present something that is not present. 9


Husserl adds a significant dimens ion to his account of how we
-experience events by recognizing that an expectation o the future is
f
as much a part of the expe
rience as a reten tion o f the past. ln fact, on
lhe side of the future, there is som
ething parallel to the disti nction
between retention and recolle
ction. He spe aks o f "primary" (as op
.
posed to secondary) exp
ect atio n which corresponds to primary
memo, and calls it
"protention" to correspon
d to retention.10 It is
one th1ng to .. call t 0
d .. some
min
futura event (plan it dread it, look
.
forwar d to 1t
just thi n k bout
it) and quit e another to anticipate the
immed' te futur
.
e as the horiz
on of
the present. Again this horizo n is

'

7. Ibid., p. 31
(52).
8. lbid., p. 35
(57).
9. lbid., p. 158.
10. lbid., p. 39
(62).

'

The Tumporol Structure of Experience and Action

23

constitutive of the present: the note's sound takes place only to be


replaced by its successor.
Thking past and future horizons together, then, one may speak of
the temporal as a .. field of occurrence," in which the present stands
out from its surroundings, and of our consciousness as a kind of gaze
which "ta.kes in .. or spans the field in which the focal object stands
out. A Bergsonian may object to this use of spatial concepts, which
we

are

-admittedly emphasizing here even more than Husserl does. ln

our defense, and Husserl 's, we can point out that it is not the con
ceptualized or objective space of geometry that we are using as an
analogy, but precisely lived or experienced space, just as we are
speaking here of lived or experienced time and not time "in itself or
"as such." It is just as well, however, to heed the warning and to
remind ourselves constantly of the limits of the analogy even as we
continue to p rofi t by its use.

The analogy can be pushed one step farther. We started with the
problem of "hearing the melody,'' and pointed out that we do not at
any time hear ali the notes in the melody. Still, we do speak of
hearing the melody, and this convey s the fact that it is the melody as
a whole, and not the individual notes, that is the object of rny
awareness. Now just as a spatial thing reveals itself to me only one
side at a time, but such that the side is seen as a side of the thing
which is my object, and not as an object in its own right. so the
melody reveals itself one note at a time, and each note is heard as
"presenting" the melody, not as standing on its own.11 ln spite of all
the obvious differences between the temporal and the spatial object
(the order of presentation cannot be reversed, the object does not
outlive its presentations, it is not differently presented to different
observers, etc.) this analogy is useful. It enables us to invoke the
Husserlian difference between internal and external horizons: those
that belong to the object, such as its hidden sides, and those from
which it stands out as an object. ln the case of the melody, our use of
the foreground-background analogy must be subtly differentiated.
Within the melody, notes that are given in any moment as past,
present, and future are like salient and hidden features of the object.
But the melody as a whole also stands out against the background of
the "silences" before it begins and after it ends.
What Husserl offers us is the counterpart of the well-known phe

11.

Ibid., pp. 26-27 (47).

Time, Narrative, and History

24

critiq ue by Me rleau-Ponty in the Phenome


.
no/o
nomenological
8Y of
.
on ( or sense-datu
satl
f
sen
o
pt
ce
con
mi. in cl
Perception of the
.
.
as s
sensatlon 1s s upposed to be the b asie
The
12
. cai
ism.
empiric
u
n
.
u or
expenence. B ut 1'f we consult our experien
of
block
ng
i
build
ce and
.
s1mp 1 est t h.ing we can dis cov
.
e
h
t
1t,
ibe
descr
er I. S t
attempt to
he
f
o
o
c
f
}
h"
t
or,
e
pa
a
or
;
eme
exa
h
m
se
p
nd
Je
u
,
ckgro
standin
figure-ba
d
d
exten
to
behin
s
it.
seem
The supp os e
out from 8 field which .
dJyg
,,
1
.
1
mean1ng
ves
emse
ess
th
n
d
1
uni
an
ts
of sensa.
Punctual , distinct,
.
,
1ence
are
in
of exper
fact the products
tion, far from being elements
of
art
a
of
forms
causal
which
p
explanation
8 highly abstract analysis
(not a description) of our experience. Sensations, then, are the
oretical entities or constructs. On the basis of Husserl 's description of
u

..

time-experience, one would have to say the sarne of the idea of 8


mere or .. pure" sequence of isolated events: it may be thinkable or
conceivable, but it is not experienceable. The idea of an "event" is
already that of something that takes time, has temporal thickness,
beginning and end; and events are experienced as the phases and
elements of other, larger-scale events and processes. These make up
the temporal configurations. like melodies and other extended occur
rences and happenings , that are the stuff of our daily experien ce.
Even though as temporal they unfold bit by bit, we experience them
as configurations thanks
retentional " g aze "

to our protentional and

which spans future and past. Like the spatial horizon, the hori zons
ely be
of the future and the past recede
indefinitely, and it woul d sur
"
mi. sta ke to identify r etention
and protention with "short-ter m mrn
entt on
ory and expectation.
As we h ave seen what distinguishes ret
fro
on, " i.s

m recoli ectio n. and protention from "secondary expectau


not the length f
ons for
0 th eir term
ing as h oriz

oW
ongoing ' presen
t experience. As with the horizon of sp a ce, h
,
much in
ll
obiective term s)
is "taken in" by these horizons wi
te
ccording to th
e qui
e eh aracter of the
u in f a ct, b
aJ
,
foreground
m
and
extens1ve.
.

but their function

va:Y

The hori zons


tia. ted
n
e
of
r
t'
e
e
ff
m
. l , 11..
b.e those of space, are not u n d1'
t
.
plena but
are .. inh a bi
.
d1sUflc
s
s
ted., b y, art1culated
e
J
or
into m ore
events As
M er 1 eau.Po
ra cl

e
}-{
n
t
u
Y h as correctly pointe d out, a p re
tEta.n flux
.
n of
or B e 0 .
ers
1
ct
u
a
..
d
tr
re
pure
tlrne as is
v
110
is as much an abs
i 1111 to nu
a e
b
zau on into
we
hmeless points. ]us t as
- -

rtoe M
N"
th (
)bn., The H UR\aJ\leau.Pont Phenomen
Jin SmJ
Co
ology o'
hiea Preta
tr.
on
Percep
t
i

i
. yl,9621 pp. 3-t.
12 Mtu

"'

The Th m p o ra l Structure of Experlence and Actlon

25

experlence of apaee except by experienclng objects n space, so we


experience time as events , thlngs that take or take up time.
Kermode is quite right. then. to say that 11we can perceive duration
only when lt is organizod. " We need not even go so far as to
organize the clock's ticking lnto groups of two, as suggested by our
expression tick-tock ... Even without such grouping, such a sound
will b e hoard as a function of its placa in a temporal configuration.
The individual sounds will clearly bo experienced very differently
depending on whether they are the first or second in a just-begun
series. or come after a long sequence of sounds. Equally, their occur

rence will have a different character depending on whether we ex


pect them to continue monotonously or whether, say, we are worried
they might lead up to an explosion. These. too, are ways of organiz
ing the series. Kermodo's mistake lies in calling the organization
fictionat and opposing it to the reality" of the .. mere" sequence.
Where is reality here, and where fiction? The reality of our temporal
experience is that it is organized and structured; it is the "mere
sequenceu that has turned out to be fictional . in the sense that we
speak of a theoretical fiction. "H
If temporal consciousness can be compared, according to Husserl,
to a gaze which spans or takes in the temporal horizons of future and
past. against which the temporal object presents itself, this is not to
say that such consciousness rises above or stands outside time. ln his
lectures on time-consciousness Husserl nowhere has recourse to a
substantial. undexlying. or persisting ego which exists outside the
multiplicjty of tempol'81 phases and views them all on an equal basis.
spread ouf' as in a simultaneous array. Time-consciousness is
rooted in the inalienable perspective of the now just as space-con
sciousness is rooted in the here. But in botb cases this "location.. is
not a limitation of or its separation from the multiplicty of time or
space. but precisely tbe opening onto it. the experienced access to its
reality.

Tbis leads to one more thing which must be noted before we part
compa.ny with our version of the Husserlian approach to time-con
sdousness. Husserl. by limiting himself to the auditory example.

seems at times to beliew that he has bracketed not merely the spatial
aspeet s of the sound but all externai reference altogether. as if he had

13. Ktnnode. P. 45.


. tton.. PP.
"c
aiectic of n.
-Th v1e
od u.a. s.. Olalson's si.l:n.ilar aitiqu. of Ktnn

,.o._ .,.
...
,.

n.me,

26

Narrative. and History

. h non-intentional or hyletac contents of


at
w
con..
to do merely
ar that the hearing of a m elody, or e
cle
s
see
Ven

sciousness. But it
of
l in the strict sens e t ha; "'
ona
'

t
nte
e
i
ll
sti
is
just a tone.

ust
eard and the hearing of it s
o farn
. h bet ween the o J ect h
.
r
1s
u
d.1sttng
we
. , w it h Husserl, to the temporali ty of the o b
. atten 1on
have p8ld
riencing that temporalit
Jec:t
ma nne r of expe
y fo

an
y}
elod
(the
ur
our consciousness. But 8
s' the flow of
se
l't
h
em
t
e
es

exper1 enc
.
presuppose, even 1'f 1't d oes not equa 1
es
do
n
ss1o
. .
, a
tion of succe
Another way to put it is this: w h
.
ns.
ptio
perce
e
n 1
success1on f
mel odY that is happen1ng, my ex
a
.
as
such
hing
pe..
. .
exper ience somet
is
an
it
even
ens:
t.
happ
No
that
w
h
strictJy
. 1.1self somet ing
ce is
.
nen
,
t
ed
even
not
fledg
fo
fulla
m
is
e
it
hat
b
t
u
t
say
o nly
we would have to
l
later
a
recol
for
or
ech
o
er,
n
observ
of
mine
for a poss1'ble externai
.
.
.
e
ce;
t
1
exp
ien
JUS
own
have it.
my
:
That is, I do not experience
.
someth1ng h1dden from me. This can be
Still, its temporality is not
entional experiences , such as
best seen in cases of genuinely non-int
of sadness.15 These are experie nces
8 throbbing tooth- ache or a wave
fO

..

that I h ave, not objects that 1 encounter. But they do begin and end,
and thus endure, even develop and change. To say simply that 1 have

these feelings suggests something too punctual; it could better be

said that I live t hrough them.16 ln the sarne manner, 1 live through the

experience of an objective event like a melody. Again, the parallel

with spatial perception holds: the temporality of my experience of a


temporal object (event) is like the spatiality of my perception of a
spatial object. My perception is not an object (or configuration of
objects} in space for me, as it could be for an externai observer, but it

does comprise a vantage point (my body) which i s its own "lived
through" spatiality. Like the vantage
point in spatial perce ption, the
teporality of an experience
of a temporal objec t is not itself an
ob1ect bu t 8 stru ctu ral
feature of the experience .
Thus lhe life of consc
iousness i s no more an undifferentiated
Bergsonian continuu
m than are the experienc
ing
ed events ha ppen
und s. It is articulated into
experiences: acts of awaren ess. feel
mgs, ep1sodes

m
which b egm an d
end, experiences wh1 ch are co
Posed of other ex
periences and
s
combine to make up Iarger one
Acco rd'ing to
Huss erl's th
eory, 1ntentional experience s are at leas t
partly diffe
rent1ated b y
what they are of. Thus when 1 he ar the
m elo dv
J the me J
not
ody 18
only distinguished from oth er even ts; mY
]
See Husserl's dis
cus .
tr
.
.
(New
lnvestJgat1011s.
16. IS li
Husser) 's
1970),
n. PP 5 72-76:
540.
n
elfahren. See ib1d P
.

S.
Flar

nitent ional feelings, Lgica/


York: Tho of no?
e
lt
i
ss,
vol.
concept7ere bes Pre
as opposed to

Tho Temporal Structure of Experfence and ActJon

27

hearing of the melody is distingulshed as such from other experi


encos. And just 89 the melody is composed of the successively
sounding notes. so my hearing of the melody is a complex experi
once composed of my hearlngs of the notes. As we said before, I do
not experience 88 events the experiences 1 am living through. Never
theless, their articulated structure belongs to the "background" of
what 1 am experiencing, which is melodies. concerts, trees falling,
persons talking, and other events ln the world.
The life of consciousness

is composed, then, in the phe

nomenological view, of a sequence of more or less distinguishable


experiences. But clearly they constitute more than justa sequence of
events ln time, at least for the person who has them. Nor is their
interrelation the causal relation of natural sequences of events
though they may be construed this way by an externai observer. It
must be remembered that in order to have experiences 1 must have
them one at a time; or rather, 1 am always ..located" in the now with
respect to past and future experiences. If we ask: ln what way do past
experiences relate to the one 1 am now having? we should not, 1
think, follow F. Olafson's suggestion that the proper way to view this
relation is as an "intentional linkage" giving rise to a "cumulative"
progression.17 He is saylng that the relation of my past experience to
the one I am now having is not that the former causes the latter, but
that the formar has meaning for me now. Its function is not to cause
present consciousness but to be for present consciousness. An effect
is not aware of its various causes, but a consciousness is aware of and
thus accumulates lts past experiences and proceeds in light of them.
This suggestion does not, 1 believe, do justice to the conception
opened up by Husserl's lectures on time-consciusness. It is appro
priate, perhaps. for the levei of recollection or secondary memory, in
whlch I often remember not the objects of my experiences but my
experiences themselves. These do then become intentional objects
for me. But Husserl's account of retention and protention suggest a
more indirect yet at the sarne time more intimate relation. What is
remarkable about hearing the melody is the manner in which con
sclousness spans past and future to encompass the meJody as a
whole and construes the note soundlng as a part within this whole.
When I experience a melody, 1 do not experience my hariv,g as an
object; but the temporal phases of rny hearing stand in 1'Jrn . nm part
; . Just
whole relatlon to each other as do the notes of the mehdy f he.u

17.

OJafson. pp. 49 101-102.

History
rative, a nd
r
a
N
nrne.
the melody as a who le
S Part of
so lh
a
d
e
c
n
2e
e ri e
p
co
the
x
plex
of
e
r
ex
part
m
s
p
i
e ienc e
roush as
h n ote
h
e Of
t
1C
d
e
\16
9
8
li

iS
ce 0{ it
8XP8rten
on that the flow of con scious
od Y
lH
o this noti
t
th mel
i
tu
nter
e,
aroun
d
encou
liv
us,
we
)
08
rn.
ed
... shell be re
i
s
vni
t s (eve nts
ec
as
J
ob
1
a
phases fi gure as parts Wi
tempor
like the
thin
tio ns whose
ura
fi
n
of co 8
x
our
o
accou
the
e
nt
pl
clud
of
m
1 co
s now con
phe.
s Let u
e
l
o
h
w
l'ity of expenence by re
pora
tem
1arge r
the
flect.
h to

?,

l
p
nomenolog
mplished.
1
a
h
w
n
o
g
can be seen in the investi
in
ists' strategy, as
ga.
log
o
men
no
The phe
t
are
on
Y
b
kn
est
1
p
eauo
Mer
wn ls to
. h H usserl a nd
ic
tlons for wh

ve of experience, such as the see g of things


consider the most passi
s1mp l e melo d ic hnes, and to
hearing of tones and
in space or t.he
thei r structure. By contrast to the empiricist s'
exhibit the richness of

! ::s ::

a ta bul o rosa and account for expe

rience
who attempt t o begin with
they discover instead a complex inter
as 8 causall y additive process,

play between consciousness and world. Too elementary to be called


activity," since it is not the purposeful, goal.. directed, and self
conscious operation of pract ical reason, it is nevertheless no blind or
auto matic

process. Whereas the empiricists conceive experience as a

reactive and usually internai

mental process. the phenomenologists


stress the openness of experience towa.rd the world. The terms
field" and "horizon," used in connection
with both time and space.
express this conception.
Nowhere is it more in e vid e
nce and more crucially important than
.th'
mthe notion f p

rotention. the openness toward the futu


re. If we
of
tnk
u elves a pas sive re
cei
m
vers
res
of i p
sions which then
s
leave theu tra
ce in mem o ry
the future seems to play no role t
all we must s1m
ply w81't for th
ing s to happen to us. At most cert8in
expectati n
are awa kene.
d in us by past experience. simply as
addition scau
sally induced
items of experience It is impossible
with th
conceptual
means to do
ori
zon which i
justice to the protenttonal b
s e.n
d
s o n of the p
is at once lirn t
i
resent, opens onto the futUJ'8
i ed
op en. As
.
we saw in the case of the melodY
characte
r of the P
rotenrio
f tbe
.
na1 future is
obrects or
a function of the nature 0
nts
we are atte
b1t
ua J experie
ndtng to. ln our lllo st routine and ba
nces the
e1,
ProtenU
detennma
onal future can be almost complet
te-.and W
ut
e are
even in
. th
8 5
lJ the more
e rnidst
to
vu
l
e
b
l
ne
ra
of t h
ex perien
rnos t novel

ees. lhe
and disco ncertinglY GO
Prote
ten . At lhe
very least lonat future is still determined to sotne rdi
nation to
tnalntai
pea our bodily equ ilib riu.ro and
n the
Ves. th
at is, our very capacitY to coii

. " "
.

,"

11

e::

surprt.
c7ill '

The Temporal Structure of Experience and Action

29

experiencing. Merleau-Ponty is quite right to stress the role of the


lived body in the temporal continuity of experience. If bodily co
herence and coordination themselves fail us we are edging toward
the nightmarish or toward unconsciousness, as on the margins of
sleep or under the influence of drugs. The horizons of future and past

are not empty forms. We can no more conceive of an experience


empty o f future than one empty of past-speaking here, of course,
not of the recollected past or the expected future, but of those of
retention and protention. As these notions are understood by
Husserl, without past and future there can be no present and thus no
experience at ali.

We have made the point that intentionally, that is, as envisaged in


protention, the future has varying degrees of openness. But it is also
factually open in the sense that it can surprise and frustrate even our
most undetermined protentions; probably the most unpleasant in
stance, in keeping with what we said about the body, is that of
momentarily losing our equilibrium or our coordination. This factual
openness has important consequences for our understanding of
time-experience.

If. as we have said, what we experience temporally

are not isolated instants. but configurations which extend proten


tionally into the future. and if present and past are a function of the
whole which includes that future, when what actually happens
surprises us, then in an important sense the past is changed. That is.
earlier, now-retained phases have become parts of a different whole
and thus change their significance for us altogether.
This is best seen, again, in the example of hearing a melody. Tunes
can take surprising tums: that is. we have protentions that are not
fulfilled. When this happens. it has tumed out that. in effect. we are
not hearing the melody we thougbt we were. The notes. even the past

ones, are now parts of a different whole: what they are "heard as" is
revised retroactively. Thus many of the temporal wholes whose parts

we experience are configurations destined never to be realized and


indeed, in a certain sense, configurations which never existed "ex
.
cept in our minds ..
This, however, does not free the parts from their status as parts, as

far as our experience is concerned. The fact is that both before and

they
after the surprising turn, it is as parts of a temporal whole that

were experienced.
ve temporal experiThus the configurational character of our passi
ntional forward reference
ences has as a crucial component this prote
rienced as a function of
in virtue of which present and past are expe
this is true even of the
what will be. It is important to stress that

Time, Narrative, and History

30

ibed by Husserl and .Mer loau-Pon


es descr
c
tY sin
n
.
o
i
r
e
exp
ceh
active, prachcal hves
our
Pa s sive
of
e
tru
ore
It 1 8 Po
m
e
th
li
o
s81'bl
l cloarl Y
some extent even Merl eau.Pon
e
l and to
s
r
ty
e
s
f
u
H
o
e
r
cli
ritl
Put.
to c
the passive. Husserl's thought. 6
mPhasi s on
8 Pec .
o
.
.
ch
.
u
m
1a11
. s too
un
Y.
ficant remnants of t he empir1c1sm he absorb
ni
ig
ed
s
ns
f
tai
con
sophers under the tutela
rorn
ge of F
f the British philo
hl study o
impression" in his analysi
s of t anz
is use of the term
Bre ntano. H
une.
'T'
but one indicat1on of. thi s. 10 some extent
i
s
ss
no
s
u
i
o
c
the
cons
ent of phenomeno 1 ogy, especially in
opm
devel
t
en
H
eideg.
subsequ
an 1mplic1't cr it'icism of this
ves
tnvol
Time
ond
It '-Q
'
,. ,,. n b
ger's D erng
.
e
cha
properly
is

racten
tence
z
exis
ed
an
m
as
u
h
an
that
d
e
aciive
e rgu
.
even its supposedly passi ve
that
,
and
tence
exis
a
l
c
t
i
c
aap ects,
en d. pra
. .
d
b
determine
y
chv
ultimately
1ty.
are
To some ex.
l ike perception,
of
perceph
ogy
phenomenol
on,
with its emph
tont Merl ea u- Ponty s
a
orientation,
admits
and
nt
this
moveme
,
tho
ily
d
o
ugh he is
sis on b
as
perception
pre-practic
view
al" and "anony.
more inc li ned to
'
mous. That is, the p rocess of perception establishes us in a worl d
which becomes the field of practice, the condition of the possibility

'

'

of a more exp l ic itl y goal-oriented and reflective activity. ln any case


it cen a lway s be argued that some aspects of experience are passive
in the simple sense that we are open and receptiva to what is happen
lng around us. And our point has been that even here, the tem
porality of this exp erie n ce must be characterized in configur ational
torms with a strong emph asi s on the futura or protentional dimen
sion. Jt is true that Husser l's empiricist
bias, especially in his early
work, leads him to a relativa negle
proten

ct of the phenomenon of

tion. But there is no question


that he recognizes not only its impor
tance but its nec essity
as part of our consciousness of time As he
says ln one of the ma
nu scrip t s "we have .
determinate expect a
Hons. We are not and
ca n never be completely without a forwardly
directed grasp. The
[der
.

temporal bockground also has a future

Zeitho/ hot ouch eine


Zukunft)."18

3 T h e Tempo rol
ity of Action

last;ec tion wo tried to show, wlth H

the
u sser l's he lp.
das
the mann
tu
er in whic h
a s truc
is
e
m
expe
rienc
t
i
ed
d
co
n
If
gured time Our
an
ex
to

h an
fl

18. HYaterl, Zur

porlence is directed towards. and itse

Philnome nol, '


og e, p. 167.

1'he Temporal Structure of Experience and Actlon

31

assumes, temporally extended forms in which futura, present, and


past mutually determine one another as parts of a whole.
We have noted that Husserl and other phenomenologists concem
themselves with relatively passive experiences and we must not
forget that a large part, if not the larger part, of our everyday lives, the
.. reality" of human experience whose temporality we are trying to
describe, is active rather than passive. It is to this that we must now
address ourselves.
As we said, if our passive experience is characterized by a complex
temporal structure, our aclive experience is ali the more so. The key
to this structure is the purposive or means-end character of action,
usually regarded as its basic feature.
Philosophers have devoted much attention to action and to its
purposive structure. Their attention has been drawn there not so
much, it seems, by their desire to clarify or understand the phenom
enon of action itself as by the cluster of other problems, especially in
epistemology and metaphysics, to which this phenomenon is re
Jated. Action has been considered one of the paradigm cases of mind
body interaction, and its analysis has been undertaken with a view to
solving or dissolving that traditional problem. Classically action has
been analysed into a thought or act of will, which is mental, and a
bodily movement, the one causing the other. Some recent phi
losophers have hoped that if they could undercut the dualistic analy
sis of action and find it in a unitary phenomenon, they could thereby
find a means to a more general assault on the broader metaphysical
problem itself.10 A difficulty with this approach is that some things
that have no overt bodily components can be regarded as actions
(rather than passive experiences), such as mathematical reasonings
and other purely mental activities. A slightly different perspective
on the phenomenon of action has been provided by a concern with
what counts as explanation of human (as opposed to non-human)
behavior. We often explain someone's action by citing its "reasons,"
and the question is whether and how such an explanation differs
from one which assigns causes. A long tradition affirms that there are
fundamental differences between the two, and prefers the term .. un
derstanding" over "explanation" when dealing with human action.
To understand an action is to know not what caused it but rather
what justified it, either in general or in the eyes of the agent.20
19. See Arthur Danto, "Actlon, Knowledge and Representatlon," in J\ction Theory,
ed. M. Brand and D. Walton (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1976), p. 11.
20. This tradition goes baclc to Dilthey and th neo-Kantlans. R ent dlscusslns
include Dray, "The Historlcal Explanatlon of Actions Reconsldered , Donald David-

32

, and Histo ry
Tim e. Na rrotive

lanatio n and und ersta n i


d n h
be twee n exp
i
nc
The disti
l
roaches
to
he
app
logi c of a &s &lSo
differe nt
ct n
it
w
th
i
ro
g
t
b u h
ve d in term s of explanation a n d c aus at . If t he
. .
0 is conce 1
1 on h
acti 0
e
ons.
gen
d1ti
ral
con
t
la
w
cien
s
, an d 8 d. P i.
k of suffi
losophers thin
betwee D descrip tions of the causi ng a n d of lh
educ
.
e u
relau on
.
ta
sed
.
con text of JUS t 1' fi cat'ion o r t h e reason able .
e
Th
aff
n ess'' f
.
.
sta tes of a1rs.
o
relat i ons govem1 ng not what is
al
.
logic
to
led
o
r
as
h
acuo ns
W1 ! l be
to be the case, that is , the d eon tic d
t
ough
at
wh
t
o
u
the case, b
tna1n of
g.21 Here one ap proach e t h e nat ural affi nity
nin
reaso
l
ctica
pra
of lhe
.
ro b1 ems assoc1at e d w1 th eth ics
p
to
n
actio
of
8 nd
pb eno menon
.
lhe
f
f
o
issues
reedo
say,
m
to
and
dless
.
Nee
d
e
et
valu
e
f
o
y
nn J nisrn
theor
are aJso relevan t .
this wealt h of analysis from so ma
lt is remarka ble, given
ny J>er.
.
been
has
n
pa1d
to
attentio
the
little
te
very
that
mp
ora li ty of
spect ives,
.
.
aspects
of
various
ac
the
hon
brought out
action. Yet it is clear that
b
intention
and
end.
and
execu
(means
tio
ses
n, thou
these analy
in
time
and
instanti ated in tempo
and movement) are deployed
ral
direct
to
need
our
we
that
these
attenti
to
on.
relations. It is
i
Let us consider an example which is n some ways comparable to
.

t ive

..

..

the

exam ple

example

used by Husserl of hearing a simple melodie line. Our

will be serving at tennis, a relatively small-scale, unified,

and simple action. It is true that there are some small-scale, purel y
mental actions, such as doing quick mental calculations, which
would be even simpler because they do not seem to require any
bodily movements. But it is more valuable for our purpos es to

overt
choose

example not just for its simplicity but because it involves ele
ments included in the standard d iscussion s of action. And
of
those is bodily movement.
Let us note first that the action unfolds i n temporal phases , li ke
melod y. The purpose of the action is to bit the bali in a certain way.
which is thus the temporal as well
as"the teleological en d
action-though it could be argued
, interestingly, that the
through," which occurs after the
ball is bit, is part of the means
end which precedes it. ln gene
ral one is incli ned to thi nk it
15
that means temporal ly prec
edes the end of the act io n, just
ao

one
the
of tbe
''follow
to the
stans ad
a it
---
-::::-:::-:
::-:-:---:- Reaton--:--:------

-::-:

---
..
ctJ
a
f

n
d
and Causes," ln

Essays on Acti on and Events ( Oxfor


u n' ve,11 Y
Ro
sa , 1 980) ; a n G . H . vo W i
d
d
n
n
Ex plonation o
ght
d
r
Un
'
eN
( Lond on:
utJ ed ge Kegan Pau l,
197 l
ln fiiS
2 1,;, Fo.r lhe causa) approach see H em
pel , "The Fu nct i on of Gen eral
tory for lhat oi pracUcal reasonlng aee .
G H. vo n Wright, .An Essay in veon . Nortb
ond the Gen era l Theory of Action,
Acta PhiJ oso ph i ca Fennko 21 ( Arnsterd artl
Holland Publiah in g Com pany. 1 968

LaWfc IJJBlc

The Temporal Structure of Experience and Action

33

thought standard that cause precedes effect. ln both cases. of course,


there are im portant exceptions involving contemporaneity: for exam
ple, a heavy object causing a hollow in a pillow on which it rests. ln
the practical sphere. one can act not to attain but to mantain some
end. such as physical fitness. or a particular skill. or a friendship or a
marriage. Aristotle's notion of happiness as virtue seems also to have
been conceived in this way. Here the end is simultaneous with ali the
phases of an action whose end it is. Such exemples are very different
from the one we have in mind, not only because they involve rela
tively long-term projects. but because they are clearly divided into
many sub-actions, a division we are trying to avoid for the moment
by choosing a simple and seemingly unified action.
Our example may not be thought simple enough, however, to
qualify as what Danto calls a "basic action," that is, one which is not
performed by performing some other action. 22 Here it may seem that

1 serve the tennis ball by drawing back my right arm, tossing the bali
into the air with my left, etc., each of which is a distinct action
describable in its own right. Such is the interrelation of the elements
of a tennis serve, however, that an accurate description would have to
sound l i ke this: the sort of arm movement required to hit the bali at a
certain height, the kind of toss designed to place the bali in the path
of the racquet, etc. ln short, each of the phases must be described
precisely as a phase of this action and cannot be described indepen
dently in terms applicable to other contexts. If it be thought that the
sarne sort of inseparability from context applies to the tennis serve
itseJf. that is, as an element in the game of tennis. it can be countered
that the action can be performed in repetitive practice, aimless vol
leys. etc., without having the function it has. and without falling
under the rules applying to it, within the game. To the conceptual
inseparability of the elements of the serve corresponds, we might add
a kind of psychological and even physiologica.l inseparability. We do
not think of the elements of the action as separate actions performed
in sequence, nor could we easily perform one of the elements, even
in a mimed demonstration, without combining it with the other
movements that make up the action as a whole.
Granted that this action unfolds in time, not in a series of sub
actons but rather in what we choose to call interdependent phases.
we must note further, and still in parallel with the experience of the

22. Arthur Danto, Analytical Philosophy of Actlon (Cambridge: Cambridge Univer


1ity Presa, 1973), chapter 1 .

ve. and History


nme , Narrati

34

whic hever stage of the ac ti on


h
n t at
e
g
a
e
h
r ah 1'
. a ''g e o''
hat t
d
an
retr
t
v
spe
y.
o
ct
e
cti

d
spe
i
v
o
a
el
ro
p
m
p
f
o
r
as
in d
k
a
s
a
o
f the
' h
the acti o n , past an d fu t u r
" l ocated .
h a s e s of
e. A
p
.
e
iv
s
re t
u ca s
and ret en hon ap p
he
oth e r s e
of p roten t1on
li ca bte
s
t
ce
n
h
o
c
.
HusserJ ia n
the age nt 's point of view o n lhe a t ere?
gi n g in
e io
n
i
r
b
n
After a ll , bY
in effe ct reverhng to a p h enorn e
not
we
re
n
a
ol
t,
&i:c
e mus
a1
in deed w
treatm ent?
ee d be useful provided one frees
epts can ind
.
o ne8
.
n
c
o
c
Thos e
d1gm of pass i ve ex peri
para
elf
ted
unsta
enc
he
t
ro
f

suffici en t ly
i ar, that is always operative i n Huss erl 's i n ' er.
v
u
e
c
stiga
.
part1
cepti on 10
avoid the sugges hon that my a
hould
s
.
ne
o
cu on .
.
.
rt1 c u 1 ar,
is
u. ons ln pa
1
1ng
a m s1mp ly obse
'
d
l
f
o
u
n
whose
y
.
Iod
e
rv
m
in
a
g
hke
. II
a process
not to th e temporal object
ble
para
com
is
n
'
0
or
ac t1
event
an ything my
to
rather
but
my
'
tem
ience,
p
exper
or
al exper1.
hich I
.

(the melo dY) w

1
1er
ear
term1
our
with
nol
ing
ogy
,
keep
m
in
y
acu o
is
en ce of l. t. Th at ,
. , But
1
"1

th
1ve
one
roug
h
but
.
unter
enco
thi s exn.
.
.
is not an even t 1
.
passive a connotahon, espec1all y as regards the
press1o n a1 s0 has too
action the future 1s not someth1ng expected
future. ln the midst of an
.
.
l y to come,
t, not somet h'1ng w h'1c h 1s s1mp
or pre figured in the presen
.
.
by the achon 1n whi ch I am
it is something to be brought about
engaged. If we are to use the term protention i n connection with
.

action then we must avoid the idea, clearly present in Husserl's

ccount, that protention is a species of the genus expe ctation . ln


action the content of my protention is not a state of the world that J

expect, it is something I effect. As 1 serve a tennis ball, simu l


taneously throwing the ball into the air and drawing back my arm,

the future state in whi ch my racquet connec ts with the ball and
sends it on its way is not mere ly some thing I expec t to happe lt is
n.
the outcome or comp letio n of what I am
doin g. ln an important sense
it is what 1 am do ing .

. The sae cau tion must be mad e abo ut usin g the not ion of reten
tion, wh1ch for Hu
sserl is a species of me mory. ln the sens e of the
tenns serve, the mo
vem ents wh ich preced
e my present pos ition are
not simply succes
si ve states of my
bo dy wh ich 1 reme mbe r' they lead
up to and prep
are the way for
present an d future.
lf one take s the
se cau t ians 1nt o
acc ou nt on e can usefu lly appea l to
the concepts
of proten ti. on
an d ret en tio n wh
porality of ach.
en de scr i bin g t he te m
on ' for th ey
.
"""'
0ffer certa 1n
intimate and
imp orta nt adva nta ge s. 1 u e
com plem en
ta ry interre1
past , whic
ahon of presen t, futu re, an d
h we f li
owed Husse
rl in rendering me tap ho rica ll y as
kind of for
egrou n d-b
8
a ckgrou n
.
d or front- back
or
rela tion , is an u np

The Tem poral Structure of Experience and Action

35

tant pert of action. or at least of a relatively short-term action such as


that of hitting a tennis bali. If we combine a strong appreciation for
this intimacy wth our caveats about expectation. we can avoid the
pitfall of portraying the agent as entertaining a "representation of a
futura state. lt is psychologically implausible to attribute to a tennis
player, in mid-swing, a series of mental pictures depicting the bali
being struck and then sailing on its way to the far court. And if the
mental picture proves to be dispensable in this case, perhaps it is just
as much out of place in discussions of longer-term, more reflective
and compl icated actions.
But is it really dispensable? It might be countered that the mental
representation is brought into the discussion not because it is intro
spectively observable , but simply because i t is conceptually re
quired. How else characterize the prospective "grasp" the agent has
on the futura? Perhaps one can avoid the suggestion of a mental
picture by speaking of a "conception" or an "idea" of the future
rather than a "representation." But one way or another, is it not
necessary to say that the agent envisages, somehow, a state of things
which is different from the present one, and then arranges things to
flt it, and that that i s what action is?
But this suggestion seems to intellectualize beyond recognition the
simple action of hitting a tennis bali. The fact is that we are short of
philosophical terminology for dealing with action and we are forced
to fali back on the dominant epistemological repertoire of concepts
and terms: conception, idea, representation, mental picture. etc.
This sarne terminological embarrassment, with its obvious con
ceptual implications, affects our use of the concept of causality in the
present context.23 ln some obvious sense, when 1 hit the tennis bali I
cause it to move. There is also. though less obviously, something like
a causal connection among ali of movements that make up the
action. Yet since Hume we are led to think of cause in terms of
observations, memories, and expectations of what will happen.
Hume explicitly rejected the inner, felt" sense of causality put
forward by Locke as the key to our understanding of the concept, in
favor of what amounts to an externai observer's point of view, sug
gesting, implausibly, that we come habitually to expect our own
movements in the sarne way that we expect externai objects to
move.24 At other moments, for example in connection with the
23. See ibid., chapter 3.
24. Davld Hume, An lnquf ry concerning Humon Nature. ed. C. W. Hendel (New
York: The Llberal Arts Press, 1957), pp. 78-79.

d Hlst ory
ro t i ve , a n
r
a
N
r1 rn e '
t t.he re is a pecu lia r fi rst
rn 't s tho
d
Pets
o
e
36
on
o tn h
ut he rejects it a s misl ea d t
b
"d

8
V
I
n
f
o
of
cu
ng
a
m
n
o
w
l
prob ve o n our o
int of v iew.;l& M o st d i s cu a n d
tern a \ p o
t
ss
he
d to t oX
perspec l
repudiate other as
are
to
try
i on s
h
ic
p
h
w
p
-r; com
enY
.
m
ects
o
8
in
1 U us
of
mp t lon of d i screta oven t s in s
in clu d
a Y
l 't
a
tead
s
t ts a ss u
u
s
a
h
c
f
o a
s u
ai n th i s observar s perspect lvo . 20 B u t ?f
na lysi (s e
a
s
t
e
o
m
at
t hi
tt u .
ess) m
s
mate since i n most casos t h c i
s proc
u
i
t
o
i
g
U
le
l
i
n
t
s
s
or
u
n
cont
e is
r1 s1 08
w led ge of p h ysica 1 eve nt s an
er surp
o
.
kn
th
i
ur
e
o
h
n
d
is
even
u on w 1t
externa i o b serve rs . The
connee
n
as
i
ity
..a
eu
pac
_
s
In ista 'ra t,
our ea
e
tt. on5 in
ac
n
treatment,
a
h
a
m
as
suc
Hu
of
t
s
l
me
of bu
su
di d t
t he re
a P ly i ng
o
tion.
is onl Y in
'

'

ac
of one's ow n
m
s
m
or
erf
p
ribe correctly th i s per for
the
tand and desc
d
rnance ,
ers
un
to
If we wi 5h
to
put
d
as1
nee
.
d
e al togethe
parti cu lar, we
r the
ora1.a ty m
.
and its temp
t
a
t
p
e
on
e
and
e
re
c
n
a
or
l
d rep s n
x
em y
ta
. log of cau sati o n. m
tnrmmo

action
such
simple
as
a
the
of
u
one n
8 t the level
.

der
Es eciall y

it
the
future
of
idst
com
the
m
pleti
i
n
on
em
I
of my
discussion. w hen
b
i
o
s
as
the
f
on
l
avai
t
c
1
d
able
evidence,
.
somet hing I pre
'acti. on is not
.
that springs to m i n d by habi tual associa.
nor is it 8 mere expect ation
tion.

ion , the enterta in ing of a


tion. But oven less is it a m ere representat
.
possibility. Terms like pre d ict i on and expectatton at least convey the
fact that we are "ontologically committed ., to

th e occurrence of the

future state. But they do not capture the obvious fact that th is future
occurrence is something l

effect.

It is what l am doing: the English durativ e captures many of the


features of the temporality of action . lt conveys the temporal span of
the action and at the sarne time
stresses its unity. Retention and
protention. properly qua lifie d
i n the sen ses we hav e been suggesting,
ay be the best terms to u
s e in cap turi ng and pre serv ing t h is pecu
liar sort of unityin
mu ltip lici ty. F\iture an d pas t ho r i zon s as en
compassed hy pro
ten ti on a n d reten
tio n are of a p i ec e with the
present and constitu
te its corn p l et
i o n or w ho len e ss. l no more repre
sent the futura th
an I represe nt
the present phas e of my a ct1 on They
are sim 1
d
f
e
Y 1 f rent aspects of w
hat 1 a m do ing . An d the sa m e is true
0f the past
P . Becaus e
they are p
arts or phases of a temp ora l wh o e, IDY
engagemen t i n
.1
the m or gr
asp of them is
u h ( stl 1
o
the presupp
th
ven
of
piece
e
a
os't
i i on of o
.
ver
ur te mpora
and part is yet
l analysis) part of t he a cu on 1 s 0
to carne.
"

25. Tbid ., p. 103


n 7
26 See M
aur.ice M. an
.
delba u
The joh ru Hop
Th e
klna Un
iveral ty
1,

Ana tomy of Hislorical J(n owJedge ( B a lt i


197 7), pp. 4957.

lflre:

The 1'e mporol S t ructure of Experience a n d Actlon

37

The need for exerc 1 s 1 ng extre m o cere l n a p p l yt n g t h e p he


nornenological approach t o action can be seen in t he work of Alfred
S<;hutz. Th1s wel lknown end influential theorist is one of t he few
who heve attem pted to epply H u sserlian concepts to a n a ne l ysls o f
ection, f\lrthermore, u n l i ke the analytic theor1os wo mentioned, h h
analysis does attempt oxpl icit l y to take acco unt o f t h e tempora l i t y o f
action, Unfortunately, Schutz begins by trying t o cornbine H ussorl 's
and Bergson's analysis of the experienco of du rat lon, and the reten
tion.. protent ion scheme i s hard l y d Uferentiated from the Bergsonian
dure p u re.21 Ali is so fusod and 1nterpenotreted that only a retlec
tive glence. in which tho agent di sengoges h i m self from his experi
ence, succeeds ln finding structuro or even d istingu ishing one expo
rience from another. Retention and protentlon somehow blindly take
place but " l know nothing of this while l em simply l iving in the flow
of duration ... Only an act of rcflective attention' assures that experi
ences are " d istingulshed, brought into reUef, marked out from one
another.''8 l t is thls reflectlve aet that bestows meaning on the
experience and this act is alwaya retrospectiva. This brings Schutz to
the remarkable concl usion that "only the olready experienced is
meaningfu l, not that which is being experiencod."29
Turning more explicitly to action, Schutz realizes thot it must be
concerned with the future, D u t he portrays the agent aa exccuting a
Jfprojeted act" which is e phantasy" or "mental pictu re" of the
action as already completed.:10 "We a re consclous of an action only i f
we contemplate l t as already ovor and dono with.":tt He auggests H1at
wl thout this qua.sl-retrospoctivo c o n t om p let ion" W6 aro roally only
eng.aged in "unconsdous behovior."
Sc hutz ooms to me to overlook horo what Is genuinoly valuable in

Husserl's onalysia and to adopt its lcast appropriato feeturcs. Tho


merit of H u sserl's eon ce pt of rotontionprotonUon is precisely th o t l t
mcognb.es the struct urod ond orgonized charoctcr of pre-roflcctlvo
expttrlence. This ia i ta great advant ago ovcr t ho Horgsonion dure

pure. On t h6 other hand, tho Hu sserl ian n<>tlon of mo o n i ng b 01 tow


-

jng es en obloctlvatln aet l a goored to co n t o m p lot ivo or t hoomtlcul


under11tanding and 1rnems loaat opproprloto to t ho 1 phoro ot O(!tlon, ot

2 7 . Alfrerl Sd1"tt, Tlu' PhtmQmt1nolngy o/ tho So lal World, tr. Ctlrf(t Wlh
.fnsdorlck l.Ahnffrt (Ev1niitorn Northwtt1h1m Unl vctre l t y t>rttu, 1 U67), pp. 490.
2ft. lhld,, p, 6 1 .
20. lbld., p. 62.
ao. ll1l d . , p. &u,
iJ 1 . fJ . p, h4.

and

Tim e.

38

Narrative. on d History

. Sch u tz over i nte l l ect u a I


h a gen t
t
y
b
d
nne
8Ctlon
I t mate ai m, li ke that of D ilt hey
l east 89 perfo
u
his
e
s
au
rs is 80 e pi ste mology of the h u a
perhaps t>ec
Vo
n
h
t
o
Y
n
a
m
e
and
.
n
viewed
actio
Wright
6
from t he sci nce8
.
n i n g of
ta
s
o u ts
.
r
de
n
u
1de.
h1s own achon as i f h
a n d t b us an
to
te
rela
e we
m to
e
e
s
r
nt
e
e
an
Schu tz's ag
tand it. As we sha ll see
g to un ders
s
u

r
trY1
c
erve
h an
.
relatlon to one s own ac
externa l obs
es ari se i n
u
m
u
e
o
m
.
n
o
s
, b
att1t
. ud e does
eis and as a privahon of th e so rt of ut
lev
x
Je
m
co
con.
only at rather
the case of an actio n l i ke h
we ha ve in
itr
n
e
m
age
n
scious eng
r such a " basic action " that it is hl i dt g
fo
st
e
n
ugg
.
s
and
tenn is bal i To
d in a d etached way
observe
ely
ctiv
e
.
fl
re
se
e rns to
n 1 ess
.
unconsciou s u
1
y anyth ing bu t h lin
clear
is
It
er.
geth
alto
enon
d : it .
miss the h om
is
consc
anyone
d
.
If
ious
P en tUn1
_....
a
ulate
of wh t h
U1 artic
e IS
d1rected ' strU C
a
e
t
h
b
11
f
h
1
.
e
serving
trie
er
s
play
to
o bserve
. the tennis
. is
1t
.
domg,
.
h
,
e
is
sure
however
to
, .
de,
mis s the ba
the outsi
li
himself as i'f from
.
ut
o
1
b
d
y
'
l
. ns a re i
ed-o
arr1
actio
dly-c
ar
htforw
mpor-.
Such simple, straig
right but beause they are the ce nt
ral
tant not only in their own
'
s
achon
nge
where
long-ra
reflec
x,
tio
comple
n, con.
element in more
a
d
ly
involve
.:-t
genuine
.
are
This is why it is
templation , and det chment

18

rn'

_,-

'

50

important not to distort them in our analysis by describi ng them


in tenns appropriate to other leveis of action .
One useful insight of Schutz, however, must be retained. Though

his whole description is couched in the language of picturing, he

admits that "once the action begins," the goal i s not just pictured but
also "wished for and protended. " This means that for the agent it is

in the future while at the sarne time, on his analysis , it is pictured as


past. The compromise is that it is "thought of in the futura perfect
tense {modo futuri exact i). ,.32 If we detac
h this notio n from Schutz's
representatio nalism and his overintel lectu aliza tion of actio n we can
see its value . Since
in acti ng we protend or inte nd the futu re go al,
rather than just pictu ri
ng it, there is a sens e i n whi ch it occu pie the
s
center of our con
cem in action an d
reflects back up o n an d deter
.
m me
the present and
past. There is ind eed somet h i ng qua si -retro
s ctive bout
.
actio n, as i f we
were located at the e n d an d fro m its
poi nt of v1e
w arranged an
d orga nized the present.
A so mewha
t better sen
se o f what Schu
.
con veyed b
tz h a s i n m ind here 15
f
1
.

c
i t tou s ex p ressi o
Y
n of Heid egger 's from hi s a nal ysi s
of everyda
yn ess t n Bei
ng an d T'ime. ln
ccupati on s
everyday conc erns a nd preo
the agent
, say s He'd
.
of
1 egger, 1s
always sich vorweg , ah ea d

32. lbid.,
p. 61.

The Temporal Structure of Experience and Action

39

himself.33 As we have noted, Heidegger, while still calling his analy


sis .. phenomenologica l . " shifts his emphasis toward action and away
from contemplation, eschewing the language of representation, per
ception, and even consciousness in favor of a new vocabulary. So
here instead of speaking of mental pictures and the like, he says the
agent is simply ahead of himself. Human existence, he says, is
characterized by its Entwurfcharakter: its projective character. What is
projected or thrown into the futura is not some picture of what might
be but the very being of the agent.
We can connect this Heideggerian point with the Husserlian analy
sis, and appreciate the radical temporal difference between passivity
and activity, if we recall the figure-background scheme and the man
ner in which it was used as an analogy by Husserl. According to this
analogy, the present .. stands out" from its past and futura horizons,
which make it what it is: present. ln the attitude of passive reception
the present seems the focus of our concern, while past and futura,
taken in by our horizon-consciousness, make this focus possible.
Considering now the temporality of action we are forced, 1 think,
to revise this analogy. ln a significant sense, when we are absorbed in
an action the focus or direction of our attention, the center of our
concem, lies not in the present but in the future; not on the tools, as
Heidegger says, but on the work to be done.3 4 Though it may be
stretching the analogy beyond usefulness, it seems more appropriate
to say that the futura is salient while the present and past constitute
its background. This is one way, at least, of rendering account of the
difference between activity and passivity. Activity is future-centered
or focused. And it is not simply attention but intention that is
focused there, to take up the point we made earlier. lt is the striking
of the tennis bal i , something 1 effect, toward which 1 bend my
concem just as 1 bend my whole body toward its realization. lt is that
goal which organizes not only my bodily disposition and my imple
ment but my whole environment (the ground beneath my feet, the
net before me, the boundaries of the court, etc.) into a kind of
predicament or problem my action has to solve. And the arrange
ment that results, it is clear, is a temporal arrangement as well as a
spatial one: the phases of the action must be deployed and must
unfold, not merely in time but in a certain order.
This emphasis on the future-orientation of action, and on the role
33. Heidegger, Being and Time, pp. 19 1-92. As the English translatlon contains the
German pagination ln its margins, 1 refer to the German pages only.
34. Ibid., p. 69.

ti ve , ond H is tory
T im e . Narro
40
zi. ng .. backward" in time the vari ou s ph
i
n
a
as
rg
o
i. n
es o
of the end
to its rea\ization , mu st n
s
roean
f th.
the
ot b
re
a
h
ic
h
s

w
n
ac\io
. s still rooted in the present . Thou gh h
e
t
i
t
h.
en
s
he ag
co
fact that t
ncell\ .e
present . Any retrosp ecuv
the
\
.
in
l
ti
s
is
e
e
h
ls
re
e
le'"" e
in the tutu .
'&' l\\ i
pleted) can o nly be a
com
as
b
it
k
on
c
ing
qU s
action tlook
z ack.nowledges by speakin g of th e fu
Q i ret
h
e
t
S
ure
s
.
tion a
S nAr,
r 1 pel'fett.
case with passive exper1ence , prote nti on e
'
n
h
s
As
s it with present and pa st , bu ses th
uture and unite
t
e
g
s
en
e "1
ulnerable to the real futu
h
v
s
o
fi
stand
,
ed
\e
ni
re w h
act1on . thus u
eh t
wa
t
est
n
d
1
h.
y.
ru
s
i
the
re
in
al\
s p ect it
.
action
the
on
e
i
d
ru
s Pet
1nt
.
hap 8
the passive expenence, but the nat
' erent ftom
u
r
not dtf
e
.
.
of th
. the cas e of a u
.
e
.
tment or surpr ise is different in
n
i
c
o
pp
sa
d1
on , s1 rn
. .
.
.
.
'f\
e emphas1zed , lt is an int enb o n or P u rp
t' \ y
because, a5 we hav
o
se
.
.
r
.
a
th
.
h
1nted . It i s a matte
ation that is d isappo
r of t e
than a mere expect
.
future are relate d. What I exp ect
Y
in Pa s
in which present and
.
siv
e
and outcome of w ha
t 1 Q.
experience is th e continuahon
D tn
n
o
t experiencing. But 1n actlon, the future is the completed execu tion w
0f
wbat l am doing. The outcome dep end s on me.

..

w:r

'

\.

ln thls sense the future, and thus the succes s of the whole aet'
ion ,
.
.
may be more vu\nerable and frag1le in the case of acti on . But at th
same time, tor the agent it is more detennin ed, less open to variatio
than the passively protended future. Also, it exercise s more retroac
tive control. so to speak , on the present, since it governs not just my
view oi thlngs but what l am doing. B oth experience and action are to
a \arge extent in the thrall of the future , but of the two action is the

more

so

4.

The Melodie Element of Ti me

ln the foregoing discussion of the temporality oi action (practical


time} we have been at pains to show how it d iffeTs from the temporal.ity of experience {experienced time). Let us sum up this
' discussion now by reminding ourselves of the many features the two
temporalities have in common.
ced
.: t-- lJ: expe
J...l
. e invo\ves at
nen
time, as we have seen, practi cal t1m
we
bottom a sequence of distinguishable events or event-phases that
}lat we
live through OT act out one at a time , one after the other, such t
. n and
1o
ct
.
8
th
are a J ways 1 ocated at one such
bo
po1n
. t at a time . ln
nt trotn
experience. however this evey-changing point i s a vantage
which the othe Y phases of the sequence , future and past are
.

..

",

p<>5ped

The Tem poral Structure of Experience ond J\ction

41

What ls thus grasped, moreovor, is not two u n d i ffercnt Jated continua


or

sequonces slmply receding tnto the infinite distance. Rather, the

tem pora l apan I s s1ructured or configured into events, in the one


cate.

and octfon. ln the other. For experlence and for action, t hen, i n

ordeT to quallfy as a present phase, a given point in t ime must not


on ly be a member of a sequence but must be an integral, functioning
port of a temporal configuration constituting an event or an action.

To repeat the point we borrowed from Merleau-Ponty: it may be


possble to conceive of space as an empty expanse or a mosaic of
polntJ, but tt Is only as an arrangement of things and places, shapes

end spaces between them, that space can figure in our experience
and ection. And by the sarne token, t ime may be conceivable as a
Bergsonlan dure pure or as a sequence of now-points, but i t i s l ived

as events and act ions. The sarne retentional-protentional grasp which


reaches forward and back ln time also effects or consti tutes a closure
whlcb articulates t ime by separating the given temporal configura
tion (action or event) from what goes before and after.
This global closure, which separatas the event or action from i ts
.. ,urrou ndings." also yields the whole which is internally articulated
into lts constitut iva parts: the notes that make up the melody, the

movements that make up the action, etc. As we have seen, the part
whole relation here i s a specifically temporal one, and distin guish
able as such from other instances of this relatlon: spati a l , for exem

ple, or conceptual. The movements t hat effect the tennis serve, like
lhe notes ln a melody, must relate to each other in a temporal way,
and not, for exe mple, i n a purely spatial way. Both t h e notes and t h e
movements could have merely spatial values, such as the arrange

men t of the notes on a music staff or the spatial relations among


different body positions captured i n a group of still photographs. B u t
these exlst si m u ltaneously n space-literally side b y side. Nor do
we

achieve the melody or the ection by rea lizing them one after the

othor. unloss t h e propor order is followed. Action and events are thus
temporal Gestalten of whose parts, in their temporal arrangement,
the subject has a protentlonal -retentional grasp: a changing and flow
lng grasp, to be sure, slnce the whole is grasped successively from
cach of lts parts, each time (metaphorically speaking) from a d i f
ferent " perspectlve."
lt is l rnpo rt a nt to stress this last point in order to avoid the tend
en.cy to place the subject ln some position above or outside the flow
of events l n order to account for hls grasp of the whole. ln trying to
describe the role or function of future and past ln present experience

nm e.

42

Na rrati ve, an d Hi story


A u g us t ine does, that they a re ..

s
P tes eh
.
"
ym8 a
sa
t t
d
'
e to d eny preci s e l y Wh
o
b
v
d
a
l
u
t
wo
s
u
o
m

n
o
we
si
a
s
t
e
.
pr
w
x
e
a
is
1
y
h.
genu1ne
t
tem

p ora l e h
.
us . To use
a mely the
ara ct te
ere . n
h
e
rn
r
r
of
Th e past i s past, gone , n o l on ge r a
to a ffi
.
tPVin
et U a i
"' g
on.
cti
a
'M_
d
than I exp ect it.
h 11e
ce a n
t urn ou t other
To a
ex pe.rie n
a
Y
m
d
n
ve an
a
.
t yet
on i s alway s to be engage d n
acti
fut ure is no
80
t
u
r o
o e
ce or to
ged i n its pha ses " a ll at n n of
enga
were
1
ex peri en
I
f
o ce
me
.. t a ti
s
It
ase
y
orall
exte
temp
ph
nd
e
a
its
d exper1.
8 . h sa m e t h i n g :
e
.
.
e
n
c
t
e
be
d
wo ul d not
and unfold 1ng act l on.
d
e
loy
dep
m ra JJ
event . a te . Y
ust strik
. e a balance betwee n two
tveJ y we m
ipt
ex.
scr
de
Th u s
t
the
presen
1n
e
by
tre
erenc
ati
inh
n
ur
g i t as a
n
r-st.ressing o
tre mes : ove
ss1
stre
ng
over
and
our
n
op e n es s
from Past a n d fut ure,
to
isolati ng
poral
pers
upra-tem
s
pe
a
s
a
cti
t
i
ve.
It rnay
by trea ting
.
past an d fu tu re
n
y
ta1
t
cer
me
h
from
p
a
ive
sical prej u.
ex tre mes der
be t hat these two
.
the form er, we have already made referen ce to th
.

dices As regards

e
as
elves
our
passi
of
ve receivers
conceive

empiri cist tende ncy to


along and h 1 t us. The latter may derive
waiting for stimuli to come
inclin ation t o absol uti ze t h e u n i ty
from an intellectuali st or idea list

and synthetic power of the "ego" to the point where an almost God
like perspective is attrib uted to it.
lt may be as well t hat the two extremes rest on a tendency to favor

certain kinds of exa mpl es: If we think of our passive experiences as

being exemplified by the intrusion of the u nexpected, then we may

be indined to think of the present as being cut off from the past (it
d
not fit i n with what has gone before} a n d the future (it sh atters
our pectations of wha t wil l come
of
next}. The response t o this sort
d
on
para igm is that it confirms
rather than denies the role of rete nti
a nd protenti on. With
out a tempora l Gestalt includin g p ast a nd future
there wou ld be no
pa st pattern to disturb no expectati on to sh tter
,
.
And as we p
omted out i n the last
n maY
section , while such i ntrus io
rob us of and
leave us s a ch1.
ns {a
ng
ex pec tat io
r
e
for
e
concret
certain
.
very
U s
n u ed
COord t Y ttua tio n ), we are sti l l left " counting o n " the co n ti
ion of our b
f the
'
0d ies
and the further general coh erence 0
wor ld a

rou nd u s
.
Th e intell e
ctu
the
rt of routi ne aJi' st' ext reme , by cont rast , may favor a s exa mP J esives
acti v1 t i s
in wh 1c
e that. are eh ara cteristic of so m uc h of 0u r 1
h we d e
a 1 ca pa
t tY
bl y w t h our
rn. ueh as
go pre
t
surround ings a n d t h i n gs
expecte
me
d H
fs
rnel es s
o
w
e
e
n
o
a
i
m y seem to be i n possess
"l aws "
:
hat
go er
e ast
s
g he e
s
P
a n d fu '-n t
b havi or of things a n d pers on , o uni
r0 b l
tu
.
e
ut
"' o u s
ern t 1'
P
caJ iy (
e ad o
of
.
pr
e
e
rhe
r
..
,
s
vents
es
i
l
a n rl r
,u o
US
e
a
r
"' P P are n t ly t i melessly } b a fo

.J.

The

Temporal Struct ure of Experence and Action

43

dmnf rutrtrAl of 1uch a paradigm b undermined by reminding our-

1cl vc not on ly of tho ennoyng ornerineu of things, and of our own

l11HlbHUy '' agont, but siso of the fact that in action we a l ways make

tt J lowance for thete contfngencies and keep a certain modicum of our


calculetive reUonaHty ln rcserve to deal with the unforeseen.

Our account o( oxperfenced time and practical time was u nder

taluln 111 ff rea ponto to the claim t hat human events exhibit i n them8llvo no structuro apart from constituting a "mere sequence." We
have ottomptod to bring out something of the richness and complex
lty or tho 1tructure of passive experience and action at their most

bule lovol.

ll lt truo t hat we have not gone very far toward making good on our

claim t ha t this structure can be u nderstood as a narrative structure.

TI1e 8tructuros

wo have uncovered so far do have some kinships w i t h

narroUvo structuro, but this 1 s not easily discernible o n so s ma l l a

acolo. To moko thls polnt properly we must get beyond the simple
actlons nnd oxperiences we have u sed as examples and move to more
complox ond long-range phenomena. We must also bring i n reflec
tlon, planning, and deliberation, which are gen uinely and i mpor
tontly involvod in the more complcx tempora l i ty of extended actions
ond oxparloncos. We reserve ali this for the next chapter.
1t was necossory howover to begin i n the present chapter with the
slrnpl.est oct lons and expericnces because they constitute the basis of
evoryth l ng that comes after. We cou ld cal l them build ing blocks or
basic olomonts lf thls d i d not give the misloading i mpression that
1olr rolot lon to oach other is merely cumu lativa or aggregat i ve. ln
f et, we sha l l find thot this relation is not unl ike the one obta i n i n g
amonR t h o parts o f the experiences and actions already discussed.
1'ho phenomena wo have described are basic in a sense other than
boing building blocks, and the im portance of beginning with such
$mllllscole phenomena, when our ultimate purpose i s to get to the
lar-go-scalo h lstorical temporal ity which extends beyond even the
lndtvlduals, is two-fold.
First, lt pormit s us to correct the view that structu re i n genera l and
narrativo structu re i n particu lar i s i m posed upon a human experi

onco intrins ica l l y devoid of it so that such structu re is an artifice


,
son1ut h i ng not .. natura l " but forced . somet hing which d istorts
or

doe

violan ce to the true noture of human real ity. Our proced u re


is
trateg ically not u n l i ke tbat of Danto 's attem pt to arrive
a t basic
ctions . .. He was attem pting amon g other thi ngs to undo tho
mind
body d istinc tion. llll d h i s argum ent was that some s i m p l e bodi
ly

a rrative , and Hi s t ory


Ti m e, N

44

y ed into a movrn e n t and a


rth er an a J z
fu
b

t
no
f. urthe
act i ons can
r '' a ct of will . " Thoug h t a nd tn oVe
r
o
''
.
n
0
it1
rn
VO l
e

d
n
e
1
t
a re
acti o n cal
i n fact i n se parab Je, a nd t
h a
cted a nd
e
n
n
o
rc
e
logi call y in te
e acce p t the threat i t enta il s o f nalysis
w
if
en
i n fin .
rk ' ev
ue
of
action
doe s not wo
ther
a
k
i
n
g
e
s
pe
is
n oth i
e are
w
as
g
regress . A s lo
n g rnore
ic h have bot h . mental and ph ys ica l 8 8Pe
wh
s
n
o
ti
cts as
th8 n a c
rahty, a n d ergues t hat wh
mpo
bas1c
te
rns
ce
n
a tegy co
ere We are
.
Our own str
i
at
h
b
s
,
w
as
act1on
1c or i rred
and
u cib l e .
. n g of expe rien ce
is
1
eak
.
sp
Wh
1
e
J
t
h
ence.
ere Is n eces
sequ
era
m
a
n
s
a
tha
ri l Y a

m o re com p1 ex
d
n
a
nce
ac
exper1e
hons
,
ng
th
erlyi
is is n ot
. 1 or d er und
an
.
sequ ent1a
b
y
ce
n
r
f
tse
er1e
J
exp
,
ap
t
our
a rt f o m
figu re in
the
order that can
b
d
te
events
n
represe
and
Y
a cti ons Th
ni zation
e
.
con fi gurati o nal orga
en
sequ
ce
b
not
1s
,
ut
then
c
o
n
s,
t
g
fi
even
u
r
ed sebedroc k of hu man
quence.
.
a n d d evot ing so m u c h
w1th
g
nnin
begi
for
n
o
de.
Our secon d reas
s a n d exper iences is one that
scri ption to these small -scale action
cannot be fully appreciated until later, but we can menti on it now in

a prelimi nary way. Essential t o the ensuing discussion is the idea


that these basic experiences and actions e n ter into combinatio ns and
Jarger configurations which differ i n some i mportant respects from

those discussed so far. ln particular, as we have al re ad y noted, a

reflective element, what we might cal l a certain loss of immed iacy,


will figure prominently i n our discussion. With i t will come an
account of how the cohere n c e of tempora l con figura tions can be
broken and fragmen ted. ln spite of a l l thi s , someth ing l ike the orig
in l temporal coher ence of
the most basic phen om ena , what we
migh t call the "mel odie "
elem ent i n hon or of our first exa mple , will
reta'in an imp ortant
pla ce i n our account, not real l y as a descript ion
of what goes on
but as an ideal or stand ard of meas u rment. Beca use
th1. s melodie ele
m en t wi 1 1 rema 1 n a basi
' g that
c pres ence in eve ryt h1n
follows , it
. 1. necessar y
to hav e fou nd i t a n d d esc ri bed i t where it has
its h me 1n
n - the most basic and rudim entary of our a ctions and
ex perie
ces .

35. lt sho
uld be n ote
d th
Actio n , w
a

1 th is st rategy, u ndertaken n J\n alytical PhJJosophy ofd


s ju dged
to h ave a1Jed
Rep resenta
ge an
by Danto in
tion "
his Jater essay, "Action, l(no w led
.
.

II
Temporality and
Narrative Structure
ln the previous chapter we dealt with the temporal structure of
pusive experience and of action, ln the interest of discovering how
the past (the historical past in particular) figures in our experience.
we need to look at the over-all temporal structure of experience. We

have indicated that the key to this structure is its namttive character.
We began by countering the view we found prevalent among many
theorists of nanative that human experience is in itself devoid of
structure, or at any rate of nanative structure. We tried to show the
configurational character of the most elementary and basic experi
ences, thereby demonstrating the inaccuracy of the claim that at
some fundamental levei human events

are

..

merely sequential in

their temporality.
What we have done so far goes some distance, but not far enough.
toward establishing our point. It is true that temporal configuration
has been seen by some (Ricoeur and Min for example) as essential
to narrative structure. And if we have shown that configuration
inheres in experience itself, then what we have said counts against
their view that such structure is overlaid or imposed upon experi
ence by a retrospective and "literary,. effort extrinisic to experience
itself. But the narrative character of experience is a much more
complex affair than the notion of configuration alone indicates, and
can be demonstrated only if three criticai hurdles are negotiated.
1. Surely narrative structure is not merely configuration, but con

figuration of a particular kind. Is there anything peculiarly narrative


about the configuration we have so far exhibited?
45

46

e, and History
Time, Narratv

is ln any case not a ssocfa ted Wfth


th
actions which have
e hort_
sserv
er ences and
p
entatY
ed ll
term elem
or Jarger-scaJe
1"
s to longer-term
ain
eq
U
ut
e
b
n
s.
ces
example
hum an events. Do the specifi
c COra
pe
nce 8 a nd
e
eri
p
ex
fl
.
act jons,
associated wf th the phenomena we have i\I

"'
ti'"
i
s
r
e
t
c
h
t 1 on a l chara
ey "1\411. 1ll
be on d the m to the knds of act1ons and
ents
Y
l ned. extend

ratives 1 .
nar
with
late
norm ali Y 859oc
answer these fi rst two questi on
are able to
a in
we
if
.
n
Eve
3
lhe
ve
a
re
lv
na
invo
es
that
m
h
rr
o
,
ed
than tu
lt can be argu
.
ve

s
at
t1
affi rrn
rr.
ization of events. 10 ou r concept of 8 narrau
an
org
l
ora
mp

certain te
of events but also a story-teller an
ssion
e
progr
only
d an
8
belongs not
it may be thought that
And
told.
is
story
the
this
audi ence to whom
cter
a
chara
that
story
a
is
fn
1
d
relate
pr
n
incipie
imparts to the events
s
Unles
fe."
we
lf
are
real
ab
le to find
to the occurrences of
tructure
2. N a rrat tve 8
i

denied

lonship in the ordinary expen.


some semblance of this complex relat
ence of time, it may be thought that the concept of narrativa is badly

miscast u a key to understanding the experience of time in generaJ


and of historical time in particular. At most it would find its place
only where most theorists have in fact situated it, narnely at the Jevel

of hlstoriography, the retrospective literary reconstruction of the

past, where its relation to real events may be considered adventitious


at best. We wish to show, o n the contrary, that the events addressed
by historiography are already narrativa in character; and this indeed

means that they display not only


the character of events narrated, but
al$o the element of na rra
tio n itself.
It 11 to these three
poin ts in turn that we shall now addteSS
ours elves.

l.

Configuration ond Narra


tive Structure

We have h
ad occasi on
11ot
t o designa te
just hvo but
nfigurations
as
co
temporal
.
three sorta
111
of p h en ome na
serl's exa t'
P 1e of a tem
Hus
T
y
he
melod
pora l
,
J
x e ie nced object, w
Pliclty of dis
exist as 8
as
to
seen
Ungu s a
rta1
l o p has es
t empora l
arran ged intemally in a ce
order an
d se off e
t i
what 80
xternaUy from lts ..surroundings," tha
ts b efor
e
after. Simil
feealJ, to
the
ar features are at tributa ble , o
of lhe m
P(trlen c
o h
e l d as exp
0 0f t
t i s. t 10111
tha
,
h
Y
0
e
erienced
rneJod
fta o
lt ta s
nd b
lncludln
ke its configurational cha.r acter /foJl,
g ita
er artkul
Principie
aUo n, its externa i dern ar cs a
of un1ty
4 w o shall
see, experiences can 8180

ITIU .

correi:

1i.ect.

Temporality and Narratlve Structure

47

such features even if their object is not a temporal object. Finally, our
example of an action was analyzed as a temporal configuration in
much the sarne terms, with account taken of the differences between
an experience and an action.
The kinship between these structures and narrative configuration
should be obvious: each constitutes a temporal closure, which can
only be expressed by speaking of a beginning, a middle, and an end.
This is of course the set of concepts that is associated by Aristotle
with the wholeness or unity of the action of a tragedy1 and that is
most often invoked by the theorists we mentioned as a mark of
narrativa structure. A sequence, a series, or a process can the
oretically be endless, but an event, an experience, or an action is
something that begins and ends.
To be sure, even this notion must be further specified. A purely
physical event, remate from human concern, can also be said to
begin and end, and thus to have a middle in between. But from the
start we have limited ourselves to human experience, so it is events
as experienced that have concerned us. What counts about the mel
ody as an exemple of an event is that it is heard as beginning, and
each of its phases is heard in anticipation (whether correct or not) of
an ending. True, a melody has perhaps more internai structure and
unity than other sorts of experienced events: a tree sways in the
wind, a dog barks, a friend passes in the street. But each of these can
be noticed, observed for its own sake, and distinguished from other
events around it. To the extent that this happens it is grasped in
protention-retention by the person who experienes it. Even the most
unarticulated or instantaneous of occurrences, like a loud bang or a
sudden extinguishing of ali the lights, is experienced as an event
with a certain temporal thickness which assures it the status it
deserves alongside other events that develop in more leisurely fash
ion. Such an event is more than the mere difference between two
states. at least for experience, for it must be experienced along with
the two states it separates. The sudden black-out, itself perhaps
without discernible thickness, is the middle of an event that begins
in light and ends in darkness.
Other events can be seen to contain more complex temporal struc
ture, even if they are of very short term. A movement ca:a
ba 8
departure from A and arrival at B, or can go from rest to motim1
and
back to rest. ln the latter case, beginning and end in
some 1J(jl1t1'3
1. Ariatotle, PoeUcs, 1450b27, 1459a20.

Time, Narrative, and History

48

ircular closure to the event. Many melbod'


coincide, giving a quasi-c
es ,
al, but arrival back at the
arriv
and
rture
depa
only
eg1n.
involve not
. .

t
1t
h
e
is
exper
cases
ienc
these
er,
ali
whetherin
ning note or chord. ln
expe rien ce, who mak es the connec.
protention, retention, or direct
note or chord) between be ginning
tion (identity of state or place or
J
by the intervening depar.
and end, and experiences it as separated
ture." Insofar as the event consists of unfolding and distinguisha ble
phases, each of these is experienced either as a beginning, oras an
end, or as an intervening phase which gets its sense and its place by

its reference backward and forward to beginning and end.


Experiences, as we saw, may borrow their structure from their
temporal objects, but they may also have their own temporal struc
ture when their objects are not temporal at all in the sense in which

we have been using that term. I can explore with my eyes or hands an
object (say a statue) which we would designate not an eve nt but
thing. But my visual or tactile observation of it is itself an event with
its own duration, its own beginning, middle, and end. As we saw in
the previous chapter, this experience is not an event that 1 encouner,
n
onfigurtio
nless I reflect, but one I live through. Yet its temporal c
irte
18 one of which
I have a protentional-retentional awareness, in v
d1s
of wh'ich 1't has for me
, and 1't 5. d
ion
ulat
its
artic
unity,
its
inner
.
ze
hnctness from other experien
recogn i
ces and actions. It must be
he
on t
too that when we spea
k of observation or explorat1o n we 8re
bc>rderhne bet w
.
een passive experiences and actions.
or
. A t'o s, fi n lly

, as we saw, are also not events that 1 encoute ng


re
n
,a t
eriences that I live through. 1 perfo rm them, and i

!!'
so
I
hases
pr en ona ly
.
s
o
i
and
va
p
retent ionally hold together the r u
l
ther
that mak t
o
u . The "prin
d
el
t
gi n
cipie" by which they are h
and orga iz
o
t
ar 1culates the
n
action even more clearly i
nin g, middle
d ar e
en d. Though teleological and temporal en
differen t con
oin
ep s an d can
ten c
of
st
o
diverge, as we saw they m
cide; an d th
cal
e same is tr
en ti
d
i
t
o
u
e 0f th e closely related though n
.5 jts
concepts of
1
m1'd dl e a n
n
.

o
u
c
d m ean s. The

in1ti atio n,
beginning of an a
nta
which b
or
l 1ew il
ears Wit hin
tio n of acti
it. than ks to the protentiona

on b 0 th
sa
mea ns or .
, as we
i
er
m1
P0snts first
th
ddle
ra
and
Or
end.
08s
or Pr1mar1.
Q
s
e
ly t 0 th e en
retrospe
uza
d which then organi z
ctively th .
e
nte
rvening step
it
tion.
i
s and stages toward S rea
CJosely as
afl
so ciate d
.
With t he me
t on
i
c
a
l kewise inti
of
l re are
ans-end structure
rnately
e 1 at d t
t
certa in
c
tr
o its beg inning-middleend s u
features
a cu n
r
8 ares With
phenomena disc ussed 50 8
.

::

'

'

d
11d

Temporality and Narra


tive Structure
49
finally with narrativa structure.
To
perform or carry out an action is
.
to achteve its end. This achieve
ment is the resolution of a certain
suspens engendered by the
contingency of the action. The notion of
suspension and resolution, of
course. is often associated with music
a d reminds us of our example of
the melody. Action begins with a
d1vergence between what is the
case and what is to be done a
divergence that has to be overcom
e and which. but for my acti n.
would remain. If the action took care of
itself, I would not need to act.
Nor can 1 he sure 1 will succeed. Effo
rt is required to get the thing
done. Completion of the act is thus not
only a temporal closure
which hrings a certain sequence (of movement
s, for example) to
dose. hut the practicaJ closure of a gap between
envisaged or pro
tended result and reality. Another way of describing this featur
e of
action, to which we have already had recourse, is to speak of
the
action as solving a probJem or predicament presented by the situa
tion obtaining beforehand. Lest it be thought that the notion of

problem-solving over-intellectualizes some actions, recall that we


used it in a quasi-metaphorical way to describe the action of serving

a tennis ball, where deliberation, calculation, or other rationcination


seem not explicitly involved.
Let us now take stock: though we have not yet departed from the
sort of simple, short-term actions and experiences that have so far
served us as examples, we have found that the notion of "temporal
configuration" can be elaborated in a number of ways: first as closure
or beginning, middle, and end, the most general designation of the
phenomenon: then as departure and arrival, departure and return,
means and end, suspension and resolution, problem and solution.
Now these are some of the very structures most often cited as
features of narrative, in the sense that they represent the manner in

which the events of stories are arranged into coherent wholes. Yet
these structures are often spoken of by some theorists, as we have
seen, as if they were imposed on meaningless data by the act of

narration itself, as if the events of life, experiences and actions, had


of a
no such structure in themselves and achieved it only at the hand
in showing that these struc
literary invention. If we have succeeded
their inception, at the very
tures inhere in the phenomena from
tained that they are imported
lowest levei, then it cannot be main
from outside.

.
e btween the hved
mad
n
ofte
is
ion
arat
sep
the
One way in which
is to say that the narrahve arrangement
realt
1 y and the Uterary artifice
. 11i 1"tself
tempora l or der to insrn.
o f even ts d eparts altogether from the
.

Time, Narrative, and History


50
th l . 1 domain. Louis Mink speaks of the configu .
in e og1ca
.
ration 1
. as f it were atempora1 1me is not of the
a
aspectof narrat1ve 1
.
essen
.
.. h writesZ) in the sense that the mulhplicity of
ce
of narratives, e
. 1
.
Th' 'd
event
.
. d li t once by an author1a overview. is i ea of tran
s
1s se1ze a a
db h
scend
.
Y t e structuralists th
1ng t h e tempora1 18 especially favore
' ough
.k. M' k want to avoid altogether the appeal to an auth
they, un l1 e 1n
ll .
h
or or
.
Barthes
speaks
of
l
i
us1on
e
ronologique
f
act of creation.
o nar.
.
d
uotes
favorably
a
sentence
of
Claude
Lvi-St
rattve an Q

rauss
L'ordre de succession FKURQaORJTXHs e rsorbe dans une VWUXFWXa
matricielle atemporelle. "3 Gre1mas, Bremond, and others tend to de.
logize narrativa, taking its temporal features as a mere surf
e hrono
.
h. b
ace
aspect, mere sequence, and. ana1.yz1ng anyt ing eyond pure sequen.
tiality as atemporal, quas1log1cal structures and relations. After
characterizing a narrative as a message" being transferred from a
t(sender" to a "receiver," structuralist analysis typically draws up an
inventory of the existents (persons, gods, nations) portrayed in the
text, then a similar inventory of "occurrents" (events, actions, transactions). The latter are then treated, following Propp's original mathematical metaphor, as "functions" into which the former enter in
various combinations. The abundance of terminology borrowed from
mathematics and artificial intelligence often permits us to overlook
the fact that the events portrayed unfold in time and that the arder of
their unfolding is important to their significance.
Many of the structural features we have been speaking of here can
indeed be seen to have a "logical" air; we have already spoken of the
deductive and the deontic logical analyses of the meansend relation.
The idea of problem and solution reminds us of mathematics. Even
the notion of departure and return makes us think of-indeed pre
supposes-the relation of identity and difference. And it is certainly
true that there is a distinction between purely logical and purely
temporal relations. But it must be noted that even if the above
mentioned structures do "partake of the logical," these structur:s a
to be f?und here, where we have located them, namely in the midst 0
experience and action, not in some higherlevel linguistic con
struction or recons truchon
of the experiences and actions

volved.
10
They a
structures and relations that exist for the experiencer or the
agent in the process of experiencing or acting; they constitute the
1

2. Mink, "Histo

.,

Geschichten 9HUVW=NaWL)LaKaQas Modas of Comprehension, P sss.


3. Barthes "lntrod .88 similar things to say about time, p. 144.
'
uchon l'analyse structurale des rcits," P 12.

SchaPP

15

111

---

Temporality and Narrotive Structure

51

meaningfulness or directlon of the experience or action; it is in


vlrtue of them that these thlngs "make sense" prior to and indepen
dently of our reflecting on them and explicitly recounting them to
ourselves or to others.
f\Jrthermore, it should be clear that however "logical" these struc
tures and relations may be, they do not ln this instance constitute a
transcendence of time. Deductive relations, relation of identity and
difference, etc., may hold among propositions or objects in a quite
timeless way, but here they obtain among events, both mental and
physical. or they are reflected in the thoughts and experiences of
persons as they live through events and perform actions. That is, they
are temporally embodied.
What is more, the most fundamental configurational relation we
have pointed to, that of beginning, middle, and end, is a strictly
temporal ordering principie, and it is a serious confusion to describe
it as if it resided in a non-temporal domain. Other ordering princi
pies may resemble it superficially and are indeed timeless: an argu
ment has lts premises (including a "middle term") and its
conclusion; the alphabet has its first and last letters; a hierarchy may
have a highest and lowest instance of authority; and a design may
have a middle point between its top and bottom. But none of these
features become beginnings, middles, and ends unless the arder in
question is deployed ln time, run through in sequence, whether in
thought or action.
The sarne is true, incidentally, of a narrativo ln written form. A
double error is committed by those who associate boginning, middle,
and end only with the narratlon (rather than the events narrated) and
then go on to consider thls relation atemporal because the written
text, as a collection of marlcs or sentences, is all there at once. A text
is no different from anything else: without time it can have no
beginning, mlddle, and end. Ita sentences are spatiaJly arranged and
some may be log1ca1Jy interconnected, and its pages are numerically
ordered, but unless it is gone through temporally it nelther begins
nor ends. It just sits there on the shelf. And its only middle is a
spatial point equidistant from its edges.
But the more serious mlatake Is the one which ldentifies the
beginning-middle-end structure excluslvely with the narration in the
first place. As we have seen, this structure belongs just as surely to
the human events-experiences and actions-about which stories
are told, and, more important, U belongs to them whether or not a
story, ln the sense of a literary text, is told about them at ali. What is

nme, Norrotive. and History


bis structure belongs essentiaU y t
it. Justas the begin.ning..:such

more. if we are UJKWWaLVWwithout
events; they could aR t mporal sequence in arder genuinel OGGOa
Y to"'h'
.
a e
ue
end structure "'"u1res ral 5equence requ1res t 1s sort of e1osu.re.
the tempo
. .

buman sequence, one whose Phas


. .
what it is. so
es and

1t is a
as
i
ff of human exper1enc e and achon.
insofar, that s,
elements are the stu
.

52

AV'j

2. Complex a

nd Extended Experienc e and Action

ke up the question of whether the structur 1


a
we must next ta and action that we h ave d'1scussed so far have
'ence
J
1
.
features of experi
the relatively s1mp e examp es we have used.
beyond
.
.
.f
anyapp licat1on
1
n between the
compar1so
u
fru1t
a
seek
to
sense
kes li'ttle
.
.
If not, 1t ma
'ty of human events and the narratlve structure. Stories
temporal1
after ali, are told not about single actions but about complicated
sequences of events and actions. And if these sequences diverge in
important ways from the narrativa structures we have been examining, it may turn out that those theorists whose view we have opposed
are right. Those who claim that ordinary experienc e. unnarrated,
consists of a ..mere sequence," and that beginning , middle, and end
are concepts having no application to it, may be willing to concede
what we have said about the temporal structure of the "basic events
and actions we have so far examined. But it is the actions and
experiences of everyday life taken together, over a longer period of
time, that fail in their view to add up to anything like a coherent
narrativa. The .. mere sequence" spoken of is not that of the miniscule
phases of events like melodies and tennis strokes but that of events
,
and actions themselves added together.
The best way to respond to this view is to point out that it is not in
.
.
the natura of events or act.ions. insofar
as they figure in our exper1
ence,dt'o combine in. a merely additive way Rather they combine
'
.
. .
accor mg to the ve
bineto ale h ry sarne princ1ple by which their elements com
-DUJHUa e t em up. That is to say, events combine to make up
J e
e events of which th b
ey ecome structural, not mere Ys
quential. elements. A m
elody may serve as a theme in a movement
constructed ac d"
son8 t8 f
to
mg
cor
orm. where it is presented in con
trast to a second th
repeated, perhaps ::hthen VaEMHFWHGt o developme nt, and finallY
and less "contrived"1exa armon1c variation. Or, to choose a simpler
mple, hook falling from a shelf may be the
first phase of a gen
.
era1collapse 0 f t h e whole row. ln our exper1ence
,

Temporality and Narrotive Structure

53

events foreshadow, augment, and repeat other events so that the


complex events they make up. while constituting a sequence at base,
are crisscrossed with lines of resemblance (to quota Hume), con

tiguity. and causality.


ln the case of actions, again the structural features are carried over
to a larger scale. Actions which have their own meansend structure
become means toward the performance of other actions. ln tennis,
the serve and each of the other strokes in a particular volley are
actions in their own right. each with its way of responding to a given
situation and achieving its end; but all together contribute to the
action of winning (or trying to win) the point, which is in turn a part
of the action of playing the game, the set, the match, etc. Most of what
we said before will apply here: the goal is usually the temporal as
well as the teleological end of the action. The end in prospect or
protention organizes retrospectively the elements of the action (some
of them actions themselves now) that are its means, requiring not
only that they be done but in many cases determining the order in
which they are done. To complete my stamp collection there are

many stamps 1 need to acquire but 1 need not acquire them in any
particular order. But to build a bookcase, or to reach my home by

public transportation, 1 must follow certain steps in their proper


turn.
ln stressing this lnterlocking aspect of these phenomena beyond
the simple levei, we are not denying, of course, that some of them can
be isolated: there are events, experiences, actions that seem to belong
to no larger context, which lead nowhere or have no "poinf' beyond
themselves. But such cases seem to stand out by their very intru
siveness and prove themselves thereby to be exceptions to the rule.
ln any case, the point is that when an experience or an action enters
into a largar context it is not usually by being a mere member of a
series, but by having a function or a value in a larger structure. It is as
such largar contexts that we experience them; in fact, it is in virtue of
our tendency to expect such largar contexts that the isolated and
intrusiva stands out by contrast.4
Complex events, experiences, actions thus 11shape'' the sequences
of subactions and other components that make them up and provide
them, at this levei too, with the closure constituted by their begin
nings, middles, and ends.
As for events, the term itself, as designating some change and some
4.

See chapter III , pp. 90-91 for a furtber: development of this point.

Ti.m e.

54

Narrative, and History

temporal content .s
eern
gu i sh ab l e
n
i
st
di
s i 1l
nd
everyt
h.
le
a
ents
ing
a
ev
t
rn
tifi
fr
<fef
as
o th
b
iden
n
u
o
1
W
e
e.
bJ
da
the Renaissance, the l
h
to
ge
8tnue1
n
nitely e:xp a n
a
ec
c e l\
meas ura
scientifica llY
u red in light - years. Sin ce We h &e, l'ldt
s
a
e
rn
ts
.
ave ic e ve n
ucell
tbe astronom
80 events, or more parhcularly of v
m
e e t
u
h
f
o
ere
opposed to think able or co a th81
speaking h
. nc eabJ e (as
r
pe
c
ex
t
d 80 far ln el ther direction of rn e1Vabie1
are h umanly
e
e
oc
n no P r

we obvio usly ca
d as events, one can he ar 8 rn 81nitude
re
e
sid
on
e
s e od Y
. ie nces
As for exPer
or
ert or see the World
conc
a
ar
he
an
e r.gh
. 's fght o ne c
1
.
e
8
'
0
n
see a b ird
- l fe crisis or exper1ence (live throu ) e
nce a rn i d i

the
can exper1e
.
War
rld
.
.,
Second Wo
0act1ons sueh 1 ong-term ande
as
e
t
gn
a
i
s
e
d
ornp
.
u
And finaJJy, we
.
ng
tt
k
ge
an
,
e
i
b
d
oo
uc
a
ahon ' ra is' .
writing
as
s
klng

rt
n
e
a
ga
cated und
. at some more or
. to b eg1n
sa1d
be
le
can
se
ss
e
th
e
a
s1.1y
chi.1d . Ea eh of

.
to procee d to 1'ts end through various inter
and
t
poin
Je
fiab
.
identi
s.
mediste step
.

later the queshon of the .. outer limits " of


We shaU have to raise
Obviously, when we turn to historical
these temporal configurations.

ourselves with phenomena


time proper we sh all have to concern
whose dimensions exce ed the experience and the lifetime of i ndivid

uais, and before that we shalJ have to ask what kind of temporal
configuration the "Jifetime" itself is. For the present we restrict

ourselves to what might be called the medium-range phenomena


which clearly lie within the experience of the individual, phe

nomena whose beginnings. middles, and ends can be taken in or


encompassed by the individual's experience.

We need to do this because it is clear that a difference in the


..dimension"
of the phenomena considered brings with it a dif
ference in the manner in which
dealt with in

these phenomena are

our experience. As long


as we remain at the level of the melody and
the tennis serve we
can speak of a more or less immediate proten
tio?al-retentional
ent or
span

which temporally holds together th e ev

actaon and unites


in
its beginning middle
are absorbed
'
' and end We
the melody
'we sim
p 1Y serve the tennis ball as we saw, with out any
'
reflect1ve
.
t
distance bet
ween ourseJves and what we are do1ng, and ye1
in such 8 wa h
y t at we 8 re
.
ct Y
not bJ 1nd or unaware. but 1n
f ac t Perfe
conscio us
,.,.p
of w h at we
"
s CJJ
are d 01ng.
.
d action d
Wh
longer-ten
an
en
the
events
n 8 dm
e
re
.
complex, it
.
different is
is clear that something mor
re
ire

I t is not
tequired.
merely that a longer attention5P Jd
and t t
be h e
m ore a. nd more
toge th er
disparate elements m ust
and re l
n
ate d Nor
0 pe
18 .1t m
Jea ves

85

erely that the Jong er-term

Temporality and Narrative Structure

55

more opportunity for changing circumstances to intrude and to re


quire revision of plans. Even more important is the fact that events
and actions maintain their identity and integrity for us even though
they are interrupted and criss-cross one another. Our ability to expe
rience events is at this levei the ability to follow them through these
interruptions, and our ability to act is that of pursuing and maintain
ing a course of action while intermittently carrying out other actions
which may be unrelated.
What is indicated here is something like the reflective stance
suggested by Schutz. If the structure of complex experiences and
actions can be considered a replica at a larger scale of the part-whole,
beginning-middle-end structure of the simple phenomenon, it never
theless requires a different subjective role on the part of the experi
encer or agent. The subject is no longer immersed in the larger-scale
phenomenon through a retentive-protentive awareness. Retention
and protention are always at work, of course, in the immediacy of

whatever 1 am doing. But when the larger-scale activity spans a

multiplicity of actions or experiences, these must be held together by


a grasp which attends not only to the object, or objective, but also to
the disparate and temporally discrete parts of my experience or
activity that render the object present or constitute my engagement
in the action.
If we are to call this grasp "reflective" or "reflexiva," however, we
must not suppose that it is detached and contemplative. ln fact it
involves a great deal of "mental activity" even in the case of those
experiences we have called passive. Following a ballet performance
in progress is protentional-retentional as it goes along, but if it is
interrupted by an intermission, during which 1 converse, buy a

drink, and visit the washroom, 1 need to "pick up the thread" of the
story and re-establish myself in the retentive-protentive frame of
mind. To do this, 1 may need to consult my memory, reawaken
certain scenes from the first act, etc.
Likewise, returning to my workbench after a pause, 1 need to

remind myself of what 1 have done and what needs still to be done.
The sense of "where 1 stand" in the project, which was so clear to me
while I was immer sed in it, now needs to be restored by an act of

recollection and reflection.


ln Husserlian language we are speaking here of the transition from
n-except
retention and protention to recollection and expectatio
tation
that in the case of action, as we have seen, the notion of expec
of
is inappropriate and one would have to speak instead, perhaps,

56

Time, Narrative, and History

. .
n, of cou rse, is soho
lanning. Del iber atio
.
h1n
uet
b

g re.
deh bera tion or P'n the midst of ach on ut a 1so, and Perh
rn
aps
h
quir ed not onl Y 1
a t dist ingu ishe s ore
. ali before it begins. ,aa ny cas e, a
exp er1 enc e frorn the p these
typi c .Y ,, mponents of act1on and
re-refl
.
ec.
"reflechve co. ,, we have spo ken of so far 1s
e the t
her
t
tha
.
ernporal
b
k
.
.
tive "immers1on
apa rt, rok en dow n into
. nce or action 1s ta en
it
d
d
s
object exper1e
rn
s
Thi
ely.
arat
eh that each can be .atte nh e to .sep
eans of
't
.
elemen s, su
round''
e pos 1ho n of ."backg
upi es t fl
occ
er
Jong
no
't
or
.
.
l
course that
sed
focu
is
n
a
. n" that it has when my pre- re ech ve atte
. nho
''h oow
to
not
is
s
Thi
c.
mah
the
s
ome
say,
future Instead it bec
.
present Or
.
isola
in
ed
V?1'e view
however, that any such elemen.ts or VXEDFaRQ
n of whi ch we are
tion. The recollection, expectatlon, and deh ber aho
.wh ose pur pos e is to organize or
speaking here are practical aRQFHUQV
Thu s the elements
reorganize these elements 1nto a un1fied who le.
rrel atio n. It is the
are taken together and con side red in the ir inte
es them atic .
whole as an interrelation of par ts whi ch bec om
d her e is what the
The kind of reflective stan ce we hav e in min
ns to take stock, to
Germans call Besinnung. Sich besinnen mea
the term Sinn sugremind oneself where one stan ds. Its rela tion to
erie ncin g, or living
gests "making sense" of wha t we are doi ng, exp
diff eren t sen se from
through. The term is used by Hus serl in a ver y
-dir ecte d but conthe term Reflexion, whi ch ind icat es the self
5 The term Besinnung
templative and epistemic con scio us inte ntio n.
stic , in the work of
is even more important, and mor e cha rac teri
as the bas ic units of
Wilhelm Dilthey. Both Hus serl and Dil they tak e
exp erie nce s, which
conscious life what they call Erlebnisse, live d
rati ons unified from
they both view as temporal who les or con figu
mse lve s dep end ent
within. Such Erlebnisse, furt her mo re, are the
figu rati on of conscious
Parts of larger wholes whi ch mak e up the con
Jife.
used
 serl, so for Dilthey, the exp erie nce of mu sic is often
aIRUHus
Dil the y des crib es our
to illustrate the tem por alit y of c0n scio us life.
, but in suc h
following melody, hea ring the not es one by one
eac h not e is experi
that past and future dete rmi ne the pre sen t and
6
85 belonging to the tem por al wh ole wh ose par t it is. But
HaFHG
s the mel ody not
Dilthey goes one step furt her tha n Hus serl . He use

wa:

15 of Carte

.
. 72. 5. On HusserJ's use of Ref1 ex1o
on
sect1
pare
com
g,
nnun
Besi
and
n
63)
s1aniache Meditation
19
off,
Nijh
s
en, ?d. S. Stressar (The Hague: Martinu
75, wlth the late
 aQGHGto Die Krisis der europiHschen Wissensc
ed. W. Biemel aXVFQaWDSS

r:fatten.

 off, 1962) pp. 508 -13.


6. DiJthey, *HVDPPaaH 0KDUaPXVNijh
e e e rtften, voJ. VII, pp. 220- 21.

Temporality and Narm


tive Structure
57
only u an example of a temporal object we exper
ience. but as a
roetapho-r for the whole which exp ri
e ences go to make up. Ufe itselt
h says. i Hke a melody, whose parts, experiences, are related to
each othe r as are indi:vidu al notes.7 The larger-sca e melodi
l
e"
character of life, however, is not guaranteed by simp living t
ugh
ly
hro
it. Wbat he calls the Zus<lmmenhang de s Lebens-the coherence of
H f&--m ust be found or constituted by Besin
nung. We shall retum to
the Zusammenhang des Lebens, a term Dilthey uses primarily to
refer to the whole of a person's life, and a term taken up by Heidegger

in that sense as well. For the moment it is sufficient to have shown,


first, that the configurational character of the events of .. real life.. is
m aintained at the levei of longer-term, larger-scale, and more com
plex phenomena than those we considered initially; second, that the

natur e of such configurations is substantially the sarne at this levei as


before, comprising such features as temporal closure, beginning
middle-end, means-end, suspension-resolution. etc.; and, third, that
those configurations are constituted (to use a Husserlian word) by a

temporal grasp" which is like the protentional-retentional structure


at least insofar as it spans past, present, and future to unify the
. various aspects, elements, or phases of the temporal configuration in
question. The only important difference that arises at this levei, apart
from the differences of complexity or scale themselves. is that of the

nature of this conscious stance. Instead of being protentional-reten


tional it has the reflective, deliberative character of a Besinnung in
which the larger-scale action or event becomes thematic as a whole.
3. Narrativa, Narrator, and Audience

means for answering


This Iast consideration provides us with the
nd narrative tructure.
the third objection to associating experience
cla1 m that narrahve struc
This objection derives, we recall, from the
ration of events but also a
ture requires not only a temporal configu
?er
s objec io c n be btter
narrator and a possible audience. Thi
of narrahve in its ord 1n ry hterstood if we consider three features
.
.
"
story, to use Barthess image, all
d
goo
st
r
'
Fi
, 1 0 8
t
.
imen
d'
o
b
em
.
ary
at is, ';' the aud1ence re
Th
.
out
cut
is
tic
sta
or
se
the extraneous noi
. A
;
is necessary to further the plot.
told by the story -teller just what

7. Ibid., p. 234.
8. Ibid., pp. 196-98.

N ar ra tiv e, an d H is to ry
Ti me,
ar a t
58
ts an d ac ti. on s th e ch
en
e ers lllay
ev
he
t
th
JJ
to
in
ay
w
f
s
1t
s
a
nd
e st o
m ad e o
m in or it y fi

r;r. ln
e.
er
sel ec ho.n is d nl y a sm a 11
th
is
ic
at
e st
th
i
al
:
in
ft
Je
is
g
in
th
ib le b
en ga ge 1n, an
T he se Je ct io n is po ss
.
nd
co
se

to
G
H
Y
a
,
8
lif e, by co nt ra st
en ce an d eh ecause
di
au
th
bo
ay
w
a
in
pJ ot
T hi s first po in t ea aKH
as th a pr in ci ;:c te rs
id
ov
pr
e
dg
le
ow
kn
 his
as Sc h J eanfodr
th e st or y- te lle r NQRaT
e,
ic
vo
a
iv
at
rr
na
e
o es
s Th
.
m ay no
.
do no t (or th
.
re
tr an eo u
es pa c1 alfly in la ti on to
y,
1t
or
lu di ng e ex
th
au
of
e
ic
vo
e
t is th
.
. . a po s1. ti. on o vo lu nt ar y ser.
ex c
.
1n
is
r
tte
Ja
Kellogg po1nt ou
. t e ne r9 Th e
qu aU y im po rt ant,
1
th e re ad er or. is w ha t w ill be re ve aJ. ed an d w he n. E .
.
po te nh aJ Jy , si nc e th e
g
t
as
Je
at
e,
ic
vi tu de regard 1n
vo
c
n1

. e voice is an iro
nc es of
eq ue
co ns
ed
nd
te
t
1n
e
1v
a
th
.
rr
as
na
J
e
.
eJ
th
.
w s th e real. as. w .
o
kn
aG.p r1 m ar dy in the
G
ER
JJ
er
HP
-te
us
th
story
1s
y
on
1r
Th1s
to the
th e characters' ac tio ns .
te r; bu t Jt is re la te d
ac
ar
ch
d
an
er
Jl
te
yor
the
reJation between st
no le ss th an th os e of
,
ns
io
at
ct
pe
ex
r
ei
th
audience as well, si nc e
di sa pp oi nt ed .
as a fu nc tio n (and
characters, ca n be ru de ly
en
se
ba
n
ca
r
lle
te
ye st or
n to
Th e ironic st an ce of th
ra l po si ti on in re la tio
po
m
te
r
he
or
s
hi
of
t}
e
th is is the th ird poin
th e ex po st po si tio n, th
is
is
th
lly
na
io
nt
ve
on
the events of th e story. C
ia n an d (u su al ly } the
or
st
hi
e
th
by
ed
ar
sh
ad vantage of hi nd si gh t
po si ti on permits
is
th
t,
ou
ts
in
po
to
an
As D
ts and
teUer of fictionaJ st or ie s.
r re la ti on to }a te r ev en
ei
th
om
10
fr
d
ve
ri
de
ts
ts th em se lv es .
descriptions of even
en
ev
e
th
in
ts
an
ip
to pa rt ic
en in
thus often in ac ce ss ib le
ca n ju st as w el l be se
ts
en
ev
yor
st
e
th
r
te
e
But this st an dp oi nt af
nt ou ts id e or ab ov e th
oi
dp
an
st
a
as
k,
in
M
n.
1
the fashion preferred by
d se es th ei r in te rr el at io
an
ce
an
g1
a
at
in
l
al
events which takes th em
of ti m e, or at le as t of
s
nt
ai
tr
ns
co
e
th
om
fr
Th is apparent freedom
se lf in th e di sp ar ity
it
ts
es
if
an
m
es
im
et
m
following the events, so
te lli ng . Fl as hb ac ks
r
ei
th
of
r
de
or
e
th
d
ts an
between the or de r of ev en
rm s th e au th or ity of
te
n
ai
rt
ce
un
no
in
e
ho m
and flashforwards bring b h
au di en ce .
the narrative va i ce over ot ch ar ac te rs an d
e no t ju st a se qu en ce of
lv
vo
in
to
s
em
se
y
or
st
 e concept of
WGaPth
a0Q
pu t it th e ex is te nc e of.
gg
lo
eJ
K
d
an
s
Je
1 8
ho
Sc
'
y
d . . events but, as .
ts : th os e of st orto
en
ev
e
os
th
tuh ree 1stm h bl e po in
of
ew
vi
d' guis an d h ts of
ay seernf a
teJJ
1ence'
be su re ' th es e th re e m
t
au
To
.
er,
rs
te
ac
ar
e
no

1n
po
ew
coincid m
vi
e
th
.
to ld fr om
m e case s.
be
s
ay
e so
m
y
.kn
or
st

character or .m a eh ar ac t 8 ic

e au di en ce ow
er vo e. H er e ev en th

. ri

e aJ so H .
Th
tiv e, pp . 24 0- 43 . Se
Sc ho les an d J<ello
rra
Na

of
XUa
W
D
1
e
N
of +LVWRa-
-1 8.
; 6aUXFWXUH
Ph il arr ati ve , pp. 12
1

an to, AnolyticaJ

15 1 .
os op hy of Hi sto ry, p .

White

'

Temporolity and Narrative Structure

59

mo re or less than the character and ali points of view seem identical .
e ut even a fi rst - person account is usually narrated after the fact, and
the selection process is witness to the difference in point of view

bet wee n participant and teller. ln any case the very possibilit y of the
disp arity among the three points of view seems enough to establish
thi s point , which is that the events, experiences, and actions of a

sto ry may have a sense and thus a principie of organizatio n which is


exl cud ed from the purview of the characters in the story.
As parti cipants and agents in our own lives, according to this view,
we are forced to swim with events and take things as they come. We
are constrained by the present and denied the authoritative, retro
spective point of view of the story-teller. Thus the real difference
between "art" and "life" is not organization versus chaos, but rather
the absence in life of that point of view which transforms events into
a story by tel l i ng thern. Narrative requires narration; and this activity
is not just a recounting of events but a recounting informed by a
certain kind of superior knowledge.
This point is related to the distinction, long standard in the phi
losophy of history, between narrative and chronicle: the chronicler
simply describes what happens in the order in which it happens.
The narrator, by contrast, in virtue of his retrospective view, picks out .
the most important events , traces the causal and motivational con
nections arnong them, and gives us an organized, coherent account.
The counterpart of the chronicler at the levei of small-scale events
would be the radio announcer giving us a live description of a
basebal l game: "There's the pitch . . . the batter swings . . . line drive
to center fiel d ! " etc. The story of the game, by contrast , is told
afterwards and in full knowledge of who won. It will rnention only
the most irnportant events, especially those that contributed to scor
ing points and thus to the outcome. All else will be elirninated,
except perhaps for touches of human interest or comic relief.1 1
It is in this sense, perhaps, that Hayden White can compare the
events of "real life," "reality as it presents itself to perception," to
chronicle rather than narrative. 1 2 Whatever shape or configuration
the events may have, the best we can do is register them as they
happen, describe them as in 8: chronicle. The reason for this lies not
in the nature of the events but in our own "position," temporally

1 1 . On telling the story of a baseball game, see Hexter, The History Primer, pp. 1 7587.
12. See Introduction, p. 12.

rratve, an d Hl st ory
T1. m e, Na
60
of iden t i t y. s ince we ca n n a rrat
u osti on
e ev
q
s
u
a
ent a
h ' J e t h ey a re goi
No
t
u
B
w
g.
.
t
Jn
fac
ak
e
n
th
g
.
spe
o
r
n t he
es a fte
se
wn Jl v
ce fo r u s beca u s e th at 18 ali w
en
u
se
of o ur o
q
e
e
r
a
e
r
m
e
a
ln a
ke u p
events m e
e
po s l t io n to se .
t m u ch t ruth to t h e fo rcgoi ng a n al ysi s . u t
B
ub
d
o
o
n
d acti o n wh c
ce
n
a
perien
e
of
x
The re is
s
re
i hh t
e fe atu
th
f
o
Y
ae
an
negloc ts m
. vest i gation 80 fa r. Even at the l evei of Passiv
m
r
u
0
e
.
in
.
turn ed u p
to wh i ch w
.
the present 18 n o t somet h 1ng
es
c
e
en
r1
a
r
e
ex pe
shor.t-term . 1
fro m fu t u re and past . A s we h ave s een wl h
n
o
t
1
a
l
ISO
.
.
con fi ned i n.
d
8 va n tage po1 n t wh J C h opens mto fu tu re
k
e
li
a
re
n
JS m o
l
H
ser
us
. fra med an
H
po ssib Je for us J' f 1. t ls
d set off
sen t 1. 5 on ly
pre
e
Th
t
pas
.
.
ge
1
1
Y
env1sa
ona
d futu re.
.
rote nt l
ed pas t and a p
.
.
'
aga in st a reta m
an d ex pe r i e n ces 1 n w h 1ch we a re pre.
s
action
the
of
. tru e
is
If ths
. 1
e of those l onger-term a
bed ' i t i s ali th e more tru.
nd
refl ecti ve Y a bsor
.
.
.
our
re
1
reflech
u
re
ve
wh1ch
q
and
ons
urati
nfi
c
del
g
ib
more com P lex o
essen ce of t h e refl echv e a nd d el 1' berati ve sta nce
erative atten tio n . The
the future and lay o u t the whole a ct i on as a
r activity is to antici pate
, a s requir ed by the e nvisaged
nified sequence of steps and stages
end. This prospec tive-retrospec t i ve princip ie of organization, thou gh

'

it does not JiteralJy eliminate the noise or "static,,. does permit us to


distnguish the reJevant and usefuJ from t h e i n trusive, and alJows us

t o push the extraneous i n t o the backgro u n d . This capacity to attend

to what counts is like t h e author's princi p i e of selection.

The obvious rejoi n d er here, of course, is that the future i nvoJ ved in
. ali such cases is only the envisaged or projected future, and t he agent

has

only a quasi-h indsi ght, a n as-if retrosp ection at his or her dis
posai . What is essent iaJ t o the story
teller's positi on is the adva ntage
of real hind sight, a real freed
om from the cons traint of the present
assu red by occupy

mg
a pos1h
on after, a b ove. or outs1de
th e eve nts

0 rrated. The story-t


elle r is situ ated in tha t env iabl e pos i tio n beyond
8 1 the unforesee
n circ u m s t a n ces
tha t int rud e ' aJI the uninte n d ed
conseq uen ces
.
of o ur act Jon s
tha t so pla gue u s i n everyday Jife
. .
.
Of cou rse th 1s
is tru e. ., th e
.
w1'th
age
re
nt
futu
doe
s not occupy a real
res pec t t o cu
rre nt 8 erio
in
n. 0 ur poi nt is
volve ' ind ee
simply that actio n d o es
.
d qut te ess e
n t i aJ I y, th e a d
. n of an anhc1 pated fu t ure
ret ro sp ectiv
.
opho
a Po in t of
vi e w on the
P rese
pres ent . We know we a re i n the
nt an d th at
t he u n fo
of
res ee n can
a ctJo n is
happe n ; b u t the very es sence
to stri ve
to ove rc
h
om e t h at l i
8 8 poss
i bJ e . Act
m itati on by foreseeing a s m u c
io
1 thu s a
of view
kin d of man o
o in ts
on t he
e u ver betwe en t wo p
ev n s
.
d otn g.
we are l i vi
Not onl y
ng throu g h a n d t h e thi n gs we are
d o we n
ot s i mp 1 Y
to
s i t bac k a n d J et t h i ngs h a p p e n

Temporality and Narrotive Structure


us;

61

for the most part. our negotiation with the future is successful.

We are, after ali, able to act.

What we are saying, then, is that we are constantly striving, with


more or less success, to occupy the story-teller's position with re
spect to our own actions. Lest this be thought merely a farfetched
metaphor, consider how important, in the reflective and deliberative
process, is the activity of literally telling, to others and to ourselves,
what we are doing. When asked, what are you doing? we may be
expected to come up with a story, complete with beginning, middle,
and end, an accounting or recounting which is description and
justification all at once.
The fact that we often need to tell such a story even to ourselves, i n
arder to become clear on what we are about, brings to light two
important things: the first is that such narrative activity, even apart
from its social role, has a practical function i n life, that is, it is often a
constitutive part of action, and not just an embel lishment, commen

tary, or other incidental accompaniment. The second is that we


sometimes assume, in a sense the point of view of audience to whom
the story is told, with regard to our own action, as well as the two
points of view already mentioned, those of agent or character and of
story-teller.
Louis Mink was thus operating with a totally false distinction
when he said that stories are not lived but told.13 They are told in
,

being lived and lived in being told. The actions and sufferings of life
can be viewed as a process of telling ourselves stories, listening to
those stories, and acting them out or living them through. And here I
am thinking only of living one's own life, quite apart from the social
dimension, both cooperative and antagonistic, of our action, which
is even more obviously intertwined with narration. Sometimes we
must change the story to accommodate the events, sometimes we
change the events, by acting, to accommodate the story. It is not the
case, as Mink seems to suggest, that we first live and act and then
afterward , seated around the fire as it were, tell about what we have
done , thereby creating something entirely new thanks to a new
perspective. The retrospective view of the narrator, with its capacity
for seeing the whole in all its irony, is not in irreconcilable opposi
tion to the agent's view but is an extension and refinement of a
vie wpoint inherent in action itself.
To be an agent or subject of experience is to make the constant
13. See Introduction, p. 10.

istory
Time, Narrative, an d H
62
e w ay th e story.feller does. Jt
th
tly
ac
ex
in
e
tim
nt
.
rmou
w of ev en ts by gathe
flo
e
th
e
at
in
m
do
t
attempt to su
e narratJve aaJth.ern
th
of
p
as
gr
d
ar
w
ck
ba
is the DWWHPaW:Orward
rr at io n co ..tttMut1nk
na
at
th
e
ev
Ji
be
to
ht
e rg
fl ti ng or ns es
.
h
together in tr teh eorists ar
ec
re
1nutatfn
St
an d the othe
ning ra th er t fan. JU
ea
m
es
B
t
n intert wJnedg
something, creaexfsts in de pe nd en t 1y o 1t. . utfna frr at io '
1 1tself not m
f
. . h
somet. hl ng'thth acton does th1s 1n t e co ur se o f e
ereJy
ge s of boo,ks.
8
pa
e
th
in
s,
or
th
18
au
of
. th e cour
. d w it
. t ert w1n
aait h ewfiset . 8t the 'hands . be1. ng 1n
h
e
se of
ion
HJ te r t
at
rr
.
na
of
ak
t
in g to th e simpJe fact tha
Wh en we Spe
rr
fe
re
t
no
e
ar
e
w
at
th
life, t should be noted
IJing storfes. lt is
te

to
HG
RW
a

GH
V
a
n
tio
sa
nver
great deal of everyday co
e fo rm of anecdotes
th
in
8
ly
aJ
c1
pe
es
,
es
iv
certainly true that narrat
a large part of our
up
e
ak
m
f,
el
es
on
t
ou
about acquaintances or ab
e narratves in social
es
th
of
le
ro
e
th
d
an
s,
conversationaJ exchange
But ou r Jnterest
y.
ud
st
of
t
ec
bj
su
g
in
at
fascin
communication can be e
co ns ti tu ti ng the sense
in
le
ro
its
to
d
ite
m
H
is
fn narrafive to this point
e Jivfng through,
ar
e
w
ts
en
ev
e
th
d
an
ged in
of the actfon we are enga
sh ap e an d coherence to
ng
vi
gi
d
an
y
Jl
ra
po
m
lts role in organizing te
e ar e having them.
w
as
ng
vi
ha
e
ar
e
w
riences
the sequence of expe
iv es m ay pJay such a
at
rr
na
l
ta
do
ec
an
d
ne
to
Some of the above-mentio 14
th e st or y of an accident
lJ
te
e
w
n
he
w
t,
ou
ts
role: as Schapp poin
on so as to affect the
ti
en
rv
te
in
r
he
or
s
hi
ek
a doctor or Jawyer, we se
or next chapter.
ei
qu
se
s
it
s
ap
rh
pe
or
story,
subsequent course of the
st or y itself; but it need
e
th
of
rt
pa
be
ay
m
rs
Telling the story to othe
e
not be.
sc us si on of th e narrativ
di
a
in
at
th
is
it
hy
w
ify
This may help cJar
w, re la tiv el y late, that
no
ly
on
is
it
ce
en
r
pe
character of everyday ex
po in te d out that
y
ad
re
al
e
W
.
ge
ua
ng
k of Ia
telling, 85
we have begun to spea
of
t
ac
al
rb
ve
a
is
it
at
ion is no t th
what fs essential to narrat
ts J of view on
in
po
r
(o
t
in
po
n
ai
rt
es a ce
such, but that it embodi
ct ur e refers not onrelys
ru
st
a
iv
at
rr
na
e,
or
m
er
1 f eato
sequence of events. Furth
a
on
ti
za
ni
.
ga
or
f
e
th

to
tof such a pJay of pomts o v1ew but also
be gi nn in g- m id dl e en d,
as
s
rm
te
ch
su
in
es
o the events themselv
an d th e Jike. Wine
on
ti
ti
pe
re
rn
tu
re
eur
rta
tion, depart
'
'
sus.penslon-resol lu
pe
es
ur
at
fe
al
on
ti
th
ni za
 at aJ
PDQaIQth
ese structures an d or ga
.
to ev d
no t th e QDUUDOLJCJLaa
or
er
th
he
w
n
tio
ac
d
f exP
perence an
st ru ct :: aythexac
o
rm
fo
e

th
or e t of narrat1ve st ru ct ur in g ta ke s
verbaJizatf 011 .
di ce we
en
au
to
h
er
U
f
te
Thit 11 true even 0 t o re)atJon of story14 ,

Schtpp, ln Ce1chJe1't en Ver1trlckt , pp. 10 7- 10 9.

Tem poraJit y and Narra liv Str


e
uct ure

63

ile story-telli ng in its usual social and literary


me nt ioned ealier.
.
form s is an intersub1echve activity which assumes a hearer 's or
read er's point of view on the events narrated, as we have seen this
point of vie is at times assumed even by the agent regardin g his or
her ow n achon. and by the experiencer on his or her own passive
.
exper ienc es Sometimes 1 do have the sense of observing myself act
or ex perie nce as if 1 were observing another person, and as if I did not
understand what that person was doing and thus needed to be told.

Th is calls for the kind of Besinn ung which "makes sense of the
acti on or experien ce, and in which 1 (the narrator) tell or remind or
expla in to myself (the hearer) what 1 (the character) am doing. None

of th is requires that l literall y talk, even silently, to myslf.


This interior narration, even if it is not explicitly linguistic, could
nevertheless be taken as evidence that the kind of narrativa structure
an d structuring we are examining here is essentially intersubjective
and thus social. ln the activity of self-explication or self-clarification,

the self as audience" to whom 1 address myself is perhaps really a


standin for the genuine other: the peers, friends, and authorities of

my social milieu to whom 1 so often give an accounting of myself by

recounting what 1 am doing and what l am about. Thus if the self as


agent and as experiencer has. in our theory. fragmented itself into
different roles or functions, this is simply an interiorization of the
real social situation in which 1 find myself.

Yet it coul d also be said that when 1 do give an account of myself to

others, my ultimate purpose is to remind myself, convince myself,


justify myself to myself. rather than to the others. Perhaps it is the
others who are the stand-ins and who simply play the role of sound
ing-board for what is essentially a self-reflective operation.
Which i s , in fact, " essential " here, the intrasubjective or the inter

subjective? Or is this a valid question? What seems clear is that the


narrativa accoun ting and recoun ting does take place. that it is some
times directed at oneself and sometimes at others, and occasi onally

the one addre ssee stands in for the other. lt is also clear that the
individual canno t be treated as if he did not exist in a social situa
tion; it is clear that the socia l milie u is some how constitutiva of what
the indiv idual is. Part of this is no doubt the fact that others are
called upon to hear and to acce pt the narrativa accounting that the

indi vidu al gives of his or her actio ns and experiences in mak ing
r
sense of or cons titut ing them temp oral ly. Self-refle ction and othe
to
refle ction seem to go hand in hand . But it may be a false ques tion
r,
ask whe ther o n e i s mor e imp orta nt or orig inal than the othe

Tim e, Na rrative, a n d Hist ory

64

the oth er in the sen se th a t i t i


s t he o .
wh eth er one preced es
.
on d ary ma n 1f es tat i o n .
sec
a
y
onl
is
r1gina1
wh i ch the other
Of
ever, affe cts our curren t c on ce r
n.
Non e of this , how
s
e has severa ! asp ec ts t o wh i c h we lbe oe
h
h
d i me nsi on of na rrativ
s li
.
ai
.
.
a
\te to
h 1 sto n ca l h me a n d the m a nn e r
der
h
cons
we
in W
turn when
t we are sti U
men
mo
the
or
F
.
ured
sp e k eh i t is
sha ped and struct
ng of the
the narr ative charact er of ev
and
ver,
e
how
.
e d
indi vidu al
ay actio
t
n
o
wha
c
p
u
t
i
n
t
s
sum
us
te
u
s
Let
s
e.
ienc
u
ch
r
expe
and
n arrar
n ou r t reatm en t so far.
ive
d
ch aracter as revea le 1
i ence, the experien ces them s elv
es
1 . The events we exper

' and the


"
mere
f
t
o
seque nces bu t of s
st no
tructured
actions we perform cons1
of tempor a l P hases. These sequenc
and contoured seque nces
es be.n
.
their
from
tempo
separated
ral
thus
su
are
rro undings"
and end, and
relations
n
i
of
articulated
susp ensi on-re
and they are internally
solu:
l
m-so
,
proble
ution
-end
means
,
etc.
eturn,
tion, departu re-r
2. These temporal phenomena have such a structu re for us in

"

virtue of a temporal grasp which can be described as protentional


retentional at the pre-reflective levei of s hort-term or simple experi

ences and actions, and as reflective a n d exp l icitly narrational at the


levei of more complex experiences a n d actions. ln both cases tem

poral multiplicity is spanned , gathered, or held together; in the latter


case this takes on the character of assuming a story-tel ler's point of
view on the action performed or t h e experience had. The resu lt is
that i n the complex actions and experiences of every day life we are
we
subjects or agents, narrators, and even spectato rs t o the eve nts
live through and the actio ns we undertake.
the
With th is we have cleared the three hurdles me ntioned at
ur

ti"fi ed o
begmn i ng of this chapter and
have thereby s u bsta ntia l ly jus
ydaY
use of the term "narrati ve
of e ver
to charact erize the stru ctu re
life.
. tly to tbe
.
We ean give
t h'is point further suppo rt by a p pea l i n g br i e
ve
atl .
rr
a
work of Pau l R '
n
icoe ur. Speak ing of the temporal c h ara cte r 0f
d'18tin8
R'icoeu r characteriz
es " em plot men t" (mis e en intrigu e) 85 Jile
on
between eve nt
th e n
th
1
i
5uc
8 .an d story, unifyin g the chronol ogi ca w
o ,
.
eh ro nolog1cal Th

e eve nts constit ute the episo d i c d im e ns1 n


_11oora
cee di ng one a
"co 1
1..llo
.

not her i n 1 inear


a
s
i
be
nt
e
plotm
fashion
Em
.
s t
rin
t l o nal act " (
o
f
s
a term he
borrows from Mink) whi c h t ran
t beJ'fl
eve nts int
fn8
s or by gra
spin g them toge th er, " a n d d i re 60ce

toward 8 o
usa o n or an
endi ng. Thi s gives t o th e s
is as i
eve nts its wh o
d it
n
,
t lle
nes s an d its
e
e
n th

l
po
i
n
"
d
t
ifl
.
"
,
theme
or
h
t o nat ura l or
en
er of ti me
were reversed : "rea d i ng th e
.

Temporolity and Narrotive Strocture

65

begi nning and the beginning i n the end, we also leam to read time
the reca pitulat ion of the initial conditions of a
itsel f back ward, as
cou rse of action i n its final conseq uences . .. t s
'lll e differen ce between Ricoeur's account and ours , of course, i s

that h e is speaking of what is accomplished by literary narrati ve


(both histori cal and fictional). Our contention is that this sarne ac
com plishment occurs every time we experience and act. If Ricoeur

has correctly characterized what l iterary narratives do, then it seems


that their accomplishment is but a recapitulation of the structure of
everyday experience and action.

4. Some Concurring Views and Some Clarifications

ln the present chapter we have tried to show that narrative is what


Barbara Hardy calls a "primary act of mind." It is our primary way of
organizing and giving coherence to our experience. Yet it is not as if
our experience" existed somehow independently of it and that our
capacity for story-tel l ing then intervened to impose a narrative struc
ture upon it. To say this would come dose to that view of narrative
we have been resisting and criticizing from the start, according to
which the literary imagination su per-imposes on real events, or as
cribes to an i nvented or fictional world, a structure alien to real life.
This was the view which declared narrative constitutiona lly incapa

ble of representing the world, even the human world. 1 6 A variant of

this view, transposed from its original reference to literary and histor

ical texts, would perhaps claim that in our conversations with others
or with ourselves we "dress up" our experiences in narrative form,
but in doing so invariably falsify them.
What we have been arguing, by contrast, is that narrative form is
not a dress which covers something else but the structure inherent i n

human experience a n d action. We started i n chapter 1 by exhibiting


the rudiments of this form in the simp lest experiences and actions.

ln the present chapter we have specified further characteristics of


this form, exhibited its presence in more complex experience and
action, and examined the pre-reflective and then the reflective grasp
which holds together and relates the various temporal phases of
experience or action in a q uasi "story-tel ling" fashion. ln our view
15. Ricoeur, Temps et rcit, vol. 1 p. 105.
16. See Introduction, pp. 10-17.

66

, and H is tory
Tim e' Na rra ti ve

ve struct ure . at lea st n o th


thi s n arrat i
w
o
l
e
i.ng th a .
.
b
g
t ts
1 n expe r1e n ti
t h ore is n othi n
e
l
b

ns1
prehe
al t er
or com
us
Y
rn
b
s. A _
experien cea ble
we sai'd b e fore , we ma y an al
as
ory,
the
.
ta
Yh. ca Uy
w1th the sense-d a
treat its d isti n gui sh ab le t
and
nce
ern p
perie
.
orai
d is member ou r ex
r1en
expe
ce
we
th
But
e
t
.
c
rn
i
tin
a
s
s
d
re
P
arts o
. t hey we
f
phases as 1f
from t h e co n fig ur
.
e
sens
heir
t
et
g
ch
au
whi
o
S
n
s to
. pora l wh o J e
tem

. .
..
which they bel ong.

furth er c1 h ng Hard y, t h at 1 t is nat ure, n ot a


,
,
then
say
rt.
S h ou ld we
t 7 It d epen d s on h o
"?
w
.
ers
I
I
th
te
ry
e
sto
n
o
ali
tor1'.
s us
W h l. ch make
..
.
ar
d
.
y
d
H
e l earl y wis h
use
is
re
"natu
term
es to
ously ambiguous
.
.
ah
to
narr
ts
e.
r1gh
artis t t he so le
and in t h is we
deny to the literary
.
nature be1ng cont raste d w1th cult ure . or to
agree with her. But is
s well? Presu mab l y not. We have al
society in the broader sense a
ntly intersu bjecti ve, and
ready seen that there is some t hi n g inhere

thus social in a sense, i n even the solitary story-t ell ing we have
attributed to the individua l. It would be a mistake to think that
narrative is "natura l " i n t he sense that it is u nrelated to and un

affected by our social existence.

Nor does narra tiva seem .. natural" in the sense that it is related to

what we know about ourselves through the natural sciences. Betterto


foJlow Frederick Olafson i n t h is regard: he i n vokes Wilfred Sel lars's
distinction between the "manifest image" and t h e " scien ti fic image"
at
of man. ' Implici t in Sellars's
distinction of course ' is the idea th

thanks to science
we are penetrating the appeara n ces to fi n d t he
.
. behind
reaJ hes
them. Olafso n i n effect remin ds us that both a re. a fter

aJl, &mages, and as a


at
phil osopher he opts along with the res t of wh
rnan
ll the hu maniti es. for the
desc ript ve elab orati on of t h e
1 est unag
e We h
h
ave d one as m u c h from t h e start by i n sis t i n g
oi
that
are s peaki ng
t
u
b
rt
not s i mp ly of ti me
or events tou t co u
time d eve nts
e.
os we e per .
e i enc
p
ience
r
them.
x
e
ou
r
x
as they ente
.
And likewis
t he
e in s .
o
f
ed
peaking
actio
it
, we are not con cern
ns
w
sort of ca
ns
u sa l . e p1
anat ion that w
a
t
., x
s
ould go beyo nd our u n d er n tb
of our act i
. 1 s
on D
we I>
erf
to t
or

m
1

t.
5
.
ex
s
,
o ur app ro ach like Ola fs on'
ten t phen
om en o 1 o
10
1 1"
i
ca
g
to br
.
l
w
n tQ v 1e
r
e
e
. w
rack
b
o
e
t
the .. in itself i n rd
a nd des .
t.ribe th e
"fo r us .
B ut wh o
are ..We
he
..? A
t
n ot h er sen
se of .. natu ra l " is u n i versal 1n

---

P. '{'b'
ondo
.
L
The
(
n
No
at1o
rru i 'M Imagin
!son.. The
Seie nti. Si.
tbl
c l tnl .
d .od
an
l
of J\ction
3e oi M.. .
Y
h
n Sc
P. Wilfred _::. u ars. .. Phil OS0p
1 96J i
i
"'
ed
l --tQ eitce, Pel'Ception and
oUt 1
!iI1ty (Lo ndon : R

At8arb.r.
Tull
. l97S}.
0nd
litrd ),

19

'11.
Diol
ectic

Listeners ..

iempora llty an d Norro


tive Str uc f ure
67
.
a
t
i
a
h
com
w
mon
o(
to a l l c u l t u rea. Ja the narr
1en 10
ative orga nizatlon
or tim a throu gh sc t t o na and oxpo rlen cos, as wo have portrayed it, a
tra ntc u l t ural-o r ratho r omnl -cu lturoa l-phenom enon ? Some the
or fs t 1 cloar ly t h t n k 80. Thia la t ru e of O
lafson , for examp le,19 and of
Rl coeur. who spoa k.s ox p l i c i t l y of a neces sH tronsc
u l t u reJJe linking
of
t
y
tel
vi
l
l
n
actl
g
a
atory
ths
and t h o tem poraHt y of huma n experi
on ce.1 0 A.nd t h i s wou l d sae m to bo the
import of ou r discus si on so
for. A fte r a l l , we thlnk of a l i pensona, not just some, as the subjects of

oxporlo uces and t h e porformers of actlon . O


s
ur analysi s of tem
pora l ity bogan w l t h H u ue r l 's accoun t of timeexperience, an analy

al

c l e arly

d o s i g ned

to

capture

the

u n i ve rs a l

"essenc e "

of

con sclou sness l n a l l its posslble instantiati ons. And it is in just this
tens o that lt i s s o convlncin g: lt la hard for us to think of a person not

exporJencing l n the manner Husserl describes: and l i kewise, it is


hard to think of action in any other way than as a teleologica l l y
ordered. "narrativo construction.

Yo t lt is precisely for us that it is "hard .. to think any other way.


And aga l n , who are we? Thus 1 do not thlnk we should be so hasty in
adopting this conclusion about the transcultural nature of narrative
stru cture. We have seid with Hardy that narrativa is a primary act of
mind." but tt is not the only possible one. Even in our own culture
we ha ve d l fferent ways of organizing our experience, and even of
dea l i n g with lts tempora l i ty. Events that unfold in time can ex

emp l i fy t i meless relations or even themselves approximate time

lessness by endless repoti tions. B o d i l y events (waking-s leepi ng,


d lgestion, menstru ation) are cyclica l . as are many natural events
around us, notably the change of seasons and the observab le motions
of the sun and moon. And even 1f "event s," "action s," and "exper i
ences, " the three sorts of h u man pheno mena we have exami ned. are

guish a
intern al l y struct ured i n n a rra tiva forro, and const itute distin
are exte r n a l ly
ble them os wHh in our expe rienc e, it may be that they
we have disrelatod to one anot her ln more ways that just those

cussed.

y versus the univerThe who le que stio n of the cult ural rela tivit
it our disc ussi on of
salit y of n a rrat ive stru ctur e w i l l have to awa
two reas ons . The first is
hist o ry for 8 fuJJ er treo tme nt, and that for
side rati on of the soc ial
that tha t d iscu ssio n w i l l be attended by a con

for hlm thls la


pec lfl ca lly of "hl sto riclty.'' but
19. 0111fson, PP 1 1 2_ 1 4 , Is apo okl nQ a
nqulve lo nt to norrnt lvo atruct uro.
20. Rlcoour, p. 85.

TJme. Narratlve, ond Hlstory

arratlve. and this will permit us to view the


68
dlrnonslon of vidual organization of timo Is ernbodded 1: 8'tlner ln
whlch the ind:econd is that historical relativity Is itself a v 8 0c181
nd 8 discusslon of hlstory wiJJ Ptovld artant of
situatlon. The
8
0
us Wlth
cultural relativfity. roaching the latter problem.
d
oans o app
ing this question opon oes not provent
bett.or m
us fr
f
i
,
a now 1oev
the narratlve organizat on o time, even if lt 01ll
. or
FODOPLQathat of the moro questionable senses we havo J Is llot
Ust r
)
" aturei in any
e.
tainly for us (whoever we are not "artificial ..
n
oxperience from without. Nor does it aHTDVOOIit
vlewed. Is cedr on RaU
u re 8
J
f
were impose
tive or reflective act separate rom t te elements it 0 d
.
1
spodcaa FUHLaHVIt is simply the way we experlence and the wory ers
we
en organ '
act. This is clearly whet Hardy must have meant by calling lt "natu.
ral."

h J

lt mlght be objected that if we use t e enguage of organizlng or

ordering certa ln .. elements," and especially if we now admit that


there aro ways other than narrativa of organizing the sarne elements,
it must follow that those elements are there" prior to and indepen.
dently of the principie of their organization. But this does not follow
at all. We can even admit, without leaving the sphere of narrativa
structure, that the same elements can be differently construed.
Nothing is more common than the retrospectiva revision whereby the
elements of one story become the elements of another: the movements and strokes of my tennis game were supposed to be part of my
victory in the tennis match; instead, they are part of the sad story of
my developlng back problems which forced me out of the match.
Similarly, the "sarno" elements can be viewed by different persons, at
the sarne time, as perts of very different stories.
1t does not follow that such elements have any status ln our
experlence epart from their involvement f n stories, at least until we
reach 8 very abstract levei of analysis. ln a revision of the sort
mentloned above, they can maintain their identity across different
VaRULHVl t may further happen, as we shell see that some isolated
story to belong to.
: etmentsllntrude or stand out as if in search of a
. d or
u no e ements ent
er our experience, we maintain, unstor1e
unnarratl 1 d
lytlcal iv ze They can emerge as such onJy under a special ana
WLILFLDOYDalt Is thts latter, not the narrativization, which is "arence
t h
that it requlrcruns so counter o t e normal current of our experi
s a spocial effort
Th
f
.
e caso is campa bl 0
used ln discussio r; to the Gostalt spatial phenomena so 0 WHa
ns 0 perception. The figure is seen either as duc
11

Temporality and Narrative Structure

69

or as a rabbit : a special effort is req uired to see a figure which is both


or neither. or contains certain "objective features that lead them
selves to alternative interpretation. The mistake is to transpose the
result of such an analytic effort back into the original experience
itself. as if we first saw the objective figure and then imposed one or
the other interpretation on it. This is a confusion of what we see with
what we take (or decide on reflection) to be rea l l y there.

Before we dismember them analytically, and even bafore we revise


them retrospectively. our experiences and our actions constitute
narrativas for us. Thair elaments and phasas are lived through a s
organized by a grasp which spans time. is retrospectiva and prospec
tive, and which thus seeks to escape from the very temporal perspec

tiva of the now which makes it possible.


The foregoing is offered as an elaboration and confirmation of
.
Barbara Hardy's remarks that narrativa is a " primary act of mind . that
derives from nature rathar than art. What Hardy says about l iterary
narrativas, Olafson extends to historical narratives and in general to
the way the "humanities .. go about understanding human behavior;
the narrativa structure they employ is not original to them but is
borrowed from the very phenomena to which they turn their atten
tion. ln discussing this structure

Olafson stresses primarily the


.
intentional character of an agenfs relation to past events and experi

ences. Human events are not lined up in sequence, with at best

causal relations obtaining among them. ln the course of an action . an


agent has intentional access to past events and a capability for
logically cumulativa description of subsequent events in the l i ght of
such past events : 2 1
We have already remarked that Olafson s account can be i mproved
upon, especially in light of some of the concepts we have borrowed
from Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. Olafson deals almost exclusively
with our relation to the past. and when he does mention the future,

while acknowledg ing its importance , he discusses primarily its log


ical status as envisaged possibility. " 22 His treat men t of both futu re

and past seems to overlook that configuratio nal character, which we


first discovered in Husserl's analysis of time-cons ciousnes s accord
.
ing to which past, present, and future are fused into the unity of an

event, experienc e, or action, thanks to the retention al-protentiona l


grasp. Especially in the case of action, which is the focus of Olafson's

21.
22.

Olafson, p. 1 0 2 .
lbid., p. 103.

n d Histo ry
ra t ' ve ' a .
r
a
N
Tim e .
. b o k in d1cates), we have se en h
70
t at
S o

h
the
l e of
o
rt
a
nt
for
b
l
m
p
tt
i
th
ore
e
e
m
th
a gent
y
a
r
de
h
attenti o n ( as
i
t
ons
it
a t us c
a s a possibil y. And if the re i. an
d
future h as a st
8ge
.
s
en v 1s
an
o n ( to u s e a n
rnere lY
feren ce " in a c t 1
o
th
ng
1
h
.
r
et
re
m
e
so
of
w ar d
ce extends backward not s o
. o n a i " bsc k
u
n
re feren
tn
.
s
i nte
1
th
u
ch
en
. 1 spo n di n
de d futura, corre
nns th
g to t
Ola fso n 's te
t h e p rote n
f
rn
h
s
e
presen t a . tent i on wh ich con s h tute s the a ct i on
in
f rom t h e
e
a
v
s
cfl
e
.
p
a
ret ros
seems n o ess 1n vo lve d
pros ""
rcti vea 1 i nt e nti on
.
n
o
' fur
at1
r
.
u
.
is con fig
com plex ach ons th a n in the .
e
mor
wh ole. 'fh
d
8 rnd . .
. .
. 1 aroer-term a n
' h we fi rst enco u n t ere 1 t , 1 n sp 1te of t h e sh '
thennore. i n ..
ic
l ft
.
en s i n wh
refl e chve , reco li e ch ve fra rn
pi e ph enom
re
mo
8
to
e of
. on
nti on -rete nti
from prote
mind .
a rt to human events the "sto ry " li k
res wh J'ch i m p , ,
e
It is these fea tu
we
as
h
,
t
c
spe
ave
a
see
ng
n
y-telh
.
Whil e
d ven 8 "stor
character an e
n
etw
t
b
h
ee
e
con
sh1p
ceptual ap.
. . ht into the rela tion
OJafson ,s ms1g
.
and the ba s t e structure of ac 1on is a va l i d
proach ol t he huma ni ties
needs th e se refine ments 1f we are ful l y
and importa nt one, his theory

er of that structure .
to appreciate the genu inely "narrativ e" charact
d
These features are better re cog n i z e by two other philosop he rs ,

with Olafson, share our views on


both the naturalness and the p erva s i ve ness of narrative structure in
Schapp and Maclntyre, who, along

human alfairs. For both, to give an account of some human event or


action is ultimately to tell a stor y abo ut it.

But stories a re lived before they


are told , " says Ma cln tyre, echo
.
mg
Hardy's views .23 That is, to
act is to l i ve out the acco unt whi c h is
part of th e action itse
lf. For

Schapp, i t is to be invo ve

or caught u p

l d
(verstnckt} in the
story of that p arti
cul ar act ion as bot h tell er and
ador (or agent
.
or cha raeter) 24
1n b oth theori es
cnti
a
a
n
s
e
e
one
can
ipatioo of the .
idea of a n .
mterp lay among
-.0 to outl ' ne
h
poi nts of vie w whic h we
.
i m the la st
secho n, and
ing in &reat
which we sha ll be developer deta1 1
.
One not ion
.

that is
. shared
bY 11 these
the1.1 d 1ff
. erences
concurring views , whatever
th
eir
'
.
ad
p
the
van tages, a
narraPrreern inentJ
nd the . r shortcomi ngs is t hat 0f
.
y
i
racticaJ
.
eh
aracter o
n
i ve 15 associ
.
f
n
a rra t i ve struct u re . Whe
ated r .
n hsto
P
1
marily
ri
wi th its embod
nd
hy, its
<>&rap
1
iment i n fict1on .
very
a
funcrt
o
" n
.88 sen se o
n may h e coun ted
f
t
h at te
eit her " ae sthe ti c ( i
fict ion lf t s
.
used t
nn) or " cog
in
o Pro
n 1h ve," respe
ely. Th at 15'
d u ce
ctiv
a Wo rk
f
nf
---one o
.

'

'

2J.
24.

MacJ t
Scti.
o Yre,

!ter Virt
u

PP. Pa
sal rn .

e,

...

p. 1 9 7

ttrt , or perhaps si mpl y

ty o nd N
arro t a. va Str
enterta i n men t ar
uct ure
d
i
v
ers 1. o n, h
.
71
u
t
i
prachca l . ln his
h n a ny cas e
tory it i s
not som ethi
t ho u g t
ng direetl
t o wa r d s kn o w i ng
of as an
Y
ex
p
, t he Past ;
ressi on of or m
a
ean
"
s
co
wo rd s . eve n t h o u
.
Rn 1tiv
e ins tru m
g h he an
ent
,
"
in
d
.
M ink's
ot he r s. ha
ce ss ln
ve grave
th at ro le.
do ubts abou t .
its sucWe have trie d to
show th at h
.
. fo re it
narrative i s prac tic
has eit her of
a l , and t h t
thes e functions
n
tw
o s enses :
un fo ld s i n a s equ
fi
rst,
pra
ence sh ap e
ctice or acti on
.
d h Y heg inn
ing , mid dle,
pensio n.re solu tio n
and end sus
me ans an d
en d . Sec on
grasp of these ele m
d the refle ctiv
e, narratin g
ent s the s t ory
-te
llin 8 aspect of
prach cal fun ction of
.
acti ons, has the
hol din th e a
ct on together
and doing so . i f
orga
s.
,
nizin g its parts
nee d he , i n t h t

.
e face of eh
N arrah on has this
ange d ci. rcumstanc
es.
practica 1 fu nch.
.
on ' as we saw
.
passive expe r1en
,
ev
en
w
ith
our
ce t' nsofa r as
we nee d .1. t t
keep rac of what is
going on arou n d us.
Thi s is not t me
ho n t e so ci al
ho th in di vi du al an d
d1 m en sio n of
co ll ect i ve ac i n. i
n w h1 ch narrativ
a di scourse
pla ys an ev en m or e ob
v'io us l y p ra ch ca l
role. Bu t even if we h
fro
r
th at an d l i i t ou rs elv
es to th e i nd i vi du al 's
or
ga
ni
za
tio
or er ow n ex pe ri nc
an d a cti o n , t h is pr ac tic al ro le is ce
ntra l.
To be su re, h a v 1 n g int rodu
ced thi s d ist inc tio n betw
.
een the " prac
hca 1 : the "ae sth eti c," an d
the .. co gn itiv a," we may hav
e to qu alif y it
som ew hat . If we thi nk of nar
rat iva as .. organi zin g " . . ma k'ing

sen se
of an d ren der ing "co hcr ent
"
our
act
ion
and
experienco, we can
.
Tem p o ra
li

co gnt ze elem ent s of a l l thre e of


these catego ri as : coherenco versus
inco here nce may be rega rded as an aest
heti c property, and narrativa
orga niza tion of actio n may be cons idered
cognitive in the sonse that
the actio n's i m p l ic i t .. story " is nothi ng but our kn
owl ed ge of what we
are abou t or w h at we a re doin g.
While action a n d experien ce may thus fall \mder aesthet i c and
cognitive as well as practical categorias. fictional and historical nar

ratives may t hemselves be practical. That is, such narrativas may


serve to organ i ze and make sense of the experience and action of

their authors a n d their readers, focusing their attention in certain


d i re ctions a n d orienting their actions toward certain goals. lf novels
play this practical role primari ly in the l ives of individuais, histories
do it primaril y for groups, as we shall see later on. lt would doubtless
be a mist a ke to say, as some theoris ts do. that fictions and histori es
h ave only t h i s pract ical role. and deny thein any p rely aesth ctic or

pure l y cog n i t ive i nter est. Neverthe less, their capa c ty for a pract lal
l
fu ncti o n may attes t to the man ner of thoir relahon to the socia
ng.
con text of act ion a n d exp erie nce from wh ich they spri

and History
Na rrati ve,
.
e
m
,
Ti

72

,
o i nt th en perhaps . b y sa yin
p
r
u
o
se
rep h r a .
-hte rary s t ruc t ur1 ng an d g that lla
ld
u
o
h
s
h e p re
e
t
W
n
i
s h an
t.
o Ie
t1 l tt

embo d i rne
n i ts 1 iterary
. e has its fi rs t r
i
d
e
g
oy
rauv
or
nt s
. t 1 5 em P I
for
i
.
e
r
pure
or
1
c
fo
Y
.
eti
cog
e
es th
nit ive
Pu r
re a l l) fe b
u re l y a
p
e
b
a
m Y
,, h ere is l og1 ca 1 , not rea l l y te m po r
poseS which
e
r
o
a 1 . 'fh
f
e
e o f b
s
u
at is
prachca
r
a
l
u
ve
o
ha
rol
d
. ve s ma Y
e, the
An
,
u
a
n
rr
a
a
n
r
ar
.
r
r)'
. e ra
i. t h eir a b senc e ; th ey, o
ve
w h ile ht
e xis ts even n
e
n the
c
n
e
n
e
P
O
ex
t her
l
Stru cture o f
ri' s e out of a rea. wor l d a l re a dy o rgan .
a
d
n
a
n
1 zed .
w i' t h 1
pa1ns to point ou t.
at
han d . e xis t
n
e
n
be
e
v
a
h
Th ey
we
s
a
n

1
rn
h
ay t
narrati ve fas
effect o n the s oci
a
. cu1 ar con texts , have an
al
8
n
rtt
d Per
tim es, i n pa
ar narrahves , stor 1es . or
ticul
par
ng
i
s
t
c
o urs e
y sugge
s of
so nal wo rl d b
thing
some
t
h
ey
i
s
elf
do
its
n
ure
ot
create
. . o n But t h e s truct
an ct
actt
.
the
On
contrary
wn.
o
r
.
i
n
thei
ou
r view t
worId on
hey
im ose on t h e
P
'
c tu re fro m the human world in w h c
u
tr
s
.
ve
t
a 1
i h t hey
get the tr narr
that
they
origin
owe n ot onl y
.
to this
thei' r
have t he1 r ori'gi' n lt is
(a
capac1t
world
y
real
we
the
woul
d mai nta in
c't y to represent
,
they have, contra Ha yd en White et a l . ) but a l so the very i d ea of
undertakin g such a represent ation .
.

'

But this is not t h e place to argue for the capacities and p urposes of
fictional or historica l narrativ es. Our presen t preocc upation is still

the world of action and exper ience as it exists a part from its repre
sentation in these l iterary genr es. It i s this wor ld
we can design ate as 1
practical in a very broad sen se: bro
a d eno ugh to inc lud e el em en ts of 1
both the aest heti c and the
cog niti va; too bro ad to per mit eith er of
tose interests to be
pu rsu ed ex clu siv ely. It i s i n th is broadl y prac
tacai sphere, as w
e have tri ed to s h ow
th at na rra t i ve ha s its first and
cont inuing ro l e
that of organ 1z1ng
and stru ctur 1ng our experiences
and our acti
ons .
'

,;
1

III

The Self and the


Coherence of Life
In the previous chapter we have attempted to develop to the
fullest extent our view that narrative structure pervades everyday life
as the form of our experiences and actions. The complex structure of
narrative that we have outlined represents the manner in which our
experiences and actions

are

organized over time.

In the present chapter we shall take the conception of narrative


structure a step further by attempting to show that i t is the organizing
principle not only of experiences and actions but of the self who
experiences and acts. The broad sense of the "practical" which
emerged at the end of the previous chapter is broad enough finally to
merge with the moral and ethical. provided that these terms too are
taken in the broadest of their many possible senses. This broadest
sense is concerned not with the right and wrong of particular actions
or even rules for action, but with the question how to live one's life as

a whole, and with questions about the nature of individual human


existence, character, and personal identity. Though it is possible t o
distinguish a ''metaphysical," a n "epistemological," and a .. moral"
sense of the notion of personal i dentity, we shall see that i n some
measure all of these are involved. Here too we shall find that nar
rative p rovi d es the key.

1. Coherence and Narrative Structure

Some theorists we have already encountered, notably Schapp and


Macintyre. have also developed the notion of narrative along these
73

11me. NormUw, ttnd History

.
dito 8t ht fur don Munn, . sny Sthl\
hl
!
Go
"016
line
notho r potson by lon rnln "'- his llf Pn. tn ttn1,
k n o w n
o- 8 t o"'
1g
to
t
na\t own t dontlty for
th"t wo M0, d
ore
boen.1
e'8
O
h
""
'Whht
wh
f
he's done
of s u c h a story. ScJuipp 's vfows aro ofttm 801 18 11u
"
l ess a quo
artu re f totl1 hJs toachor J ht 0 1 8 Ill. d 81
ra dfca l d ep
stt
"Wh
if they wc
t
tu
l
p
o
s
1nvo
o
o
ud
8Ubsto
o 11
ntfaJ 501, a
ievod to l
,m1 o t t me )
o
derlying thu now of xporlaneo. Yet
too
un
n
de \
1 8nlf
onst itutes Hsolf for Httolf. 8o to sp
::
uok.
t the 680 c
wro
Geschtchhf'; or. as oru1 could iu1y. in ono p088'bJo tr th.,
u nlty of tt
chichte' th0 ur1ity of a tory.:.
tlon of Ges
f
imUorly. tho question o p o r8ona J fdontlty 1
s
.
ntyre
Maci
Fo
y of Hfo," whlth 18 runlly t
f
hot
Into thdt o thu "unit
74

;
r::i
:

;
HU88()trtl
:
ansla.

..

"

wive'ble

oi81

lffestory. Moclntyro's ult f muto purpose. or courso,


toht?retlco of 8
i,
moral philosophy away from Hs tn
of
ion
attent
tha
odort1
to stoer
nntf
s
tion
c
a
to
ng
i
fy
h
m
f
ta
s
1
ust
j
t
o
with
tho Greek
preoccupation
Aristotle
wus
ex
which
for
plicitly lf nkod wfth tho
concopt of virtue,

whole of a IHo and Hs coho renco and unity. & For Macintyre one owt1
life can be vlowud as a story in which one functions as both author

and principle cha racter or protagonist. 0


Thus Schapp and M aclnty ro take up in their own way tho question
wo haw already encou ntered fn connection with OHthoy conception of

Bes i n nung nBmely. t he quoslion of what tho latter calls Zusam


menhong d6s Lebcns. Up to now we have 8pokcn of narrative tn1c
.

tu_re in c on n ection with indlvfdual, distinguishable eVtJnfs,


perfences, and octlons. Wo have describ ed tho conflHuretl onal
in
ch a racter of each of these.
lncJudlng their outer boundaries (beg

t
nfng nd end) and t he i
r fntorMeJ structure, Wo noto d in the la
afn
chapter that as Jargo
l'-scoJe. complox phenornena those molut
nd
their Integrity atJd
structu re even though thoy are fntcrruprod a
criss-crossed in
ra l
out experience by other like p ho no meno Notu
and oc al ev
t
of others
ents, such os tho movo
ments and ocUons
around us ' oro co fl
n gutcllions we follow through ti mo f r1 8P 1 to 0( their
discontinui
ti0 sorno of
fc1 rmod
our rnoro complex actions are p e r
.

..

'

The Self and the Coherence of Life

75

discontinuously as well, and in the intervals we are occupied with


oth er actions which serve other ends. Each of these is like a dis

tinguishable "story-line" constituted by our protentions, retentions,


and intentions.

If each of these stories requires a narrative grasp, a quasi-narration


which holds the story together, my life story requires yet a further,
-

more comprehensive grasp which takes them all as mine and estab
lishes the connections among them. My "life," in the sense in which
Dilth ey and Macintyre use the term, is of course composed of all the
experiences I have and the actions, small-scale and large, short-term
and long, in which I engage. But like each of them singly, it is itself
something temporal which unfolds in time and whose phases I
survey prospectively and retrospectively from within an ever-chang
ing present. As such it seems to call for the same sort of description
we have so far used, in connection with events, experiences, and
actions, and to invite us to look in it for similar principles of unity,
coherence, and structure. Can my life be regarded as an event I
experience, an experience I have (or live through), or perhaps an
action I perform? Is it thus the sort of "story " in which I am character,
story teller, and audience all at once?
-

For Dilthey the question of the

Zusammenhang des Lebens

is the

occasion for a discussion of the art of autobiography, and he devotes


a brief discussion to three of his favorite works of the genre:

Augustine's and Rousseau's Confessions, and Goethe's Di ch t ung

Wahrheit. 7

and

He recounts how each envisages the coherence of his life

in his selection, organization, and presentation of its component


parts. But for D ilthey it is clear that autobiography is only the literary
expression of the kind of reflection on life as a whole that we all
engage in from time to time, whether we ever write it down or not.
On the model of literary autobiographies we may think of auto

biographical reflection as being conducted in the present and being


directed entirely toward the past. More often, however, it is con

cerned with the past in order to render it coherent with or com


prehensible in terms of a present and a future. The larger
biographical past figures as a se d iment or horizon, of course, in
everything we do. But a multiplicity of activities and projects, spread
out over time and even existing simultaneously in the present, calls
for an active reflection that attempts to put the whole together. The
most striking occasions for such reflections are those radical con7. Dilthey,

Gesammelte Schriften, vol. VII, pp.

198-99.

16

nme, NarratJve. and Hi.tory

new i
rellgjou or political. in which

"'
o(1
fequi
. r.oJ. U and
ur
e
fut

I
ne
of
o
oneself. and
. ast.
choana1y1 $ Ind -
on o ne s p
a
U
J
ret
r
p
nte
rel
i
a
h
wit
nd
.
r d'
of
l
sort
a
ve
ar
n
s1m
1
ten
f
o
vo
1
eraPY
.
, c hoth
.. v
0f p.
f Omlt
a IC.I

)fy
ver. I -0n1, u.ua

. j

:rospecu

at.

iO
1n keep'ng with what we hav e sat'd j t . not a.s if 8 story
being
nted for even ts that originally had n ""aa
inve
or
on
d
se
n
Impo
o e; rat L
"'
in terms of one story are n ow seen
d
live
re
we
t
event th
-ample ' what was live d as the innocent self .aa Pa.rt of
another. J" !0r o..-i
ante
ures as now seen as a hfe of sin or
pleas
life's
of
a 1
punu it
tfe of
d t he sa I vation of mankind is
an
n
volutio
r
e
world
n
.ervle...
"" to
.
ow seen
ent
us1asm,
h
of
1
d
.
.
tion
alis
ina
m,
comb
an
ful
d

youth
gu
a
aJ
llibility.
.
an
as
recast
Oedipal
drama ti nged
Early family Jife is radically
With
.
ce
len
vio
d
an
teX
Most of ua do not experience these radical bre aks and revisions
but most engage in some form of autobiographical revis ion, ofte
occasioned by the transitions and stages of life. We are composing
and constantly revising our autobiographies as we go along.
Dilthey attempts to penetrate further into the nature of the under

standing that is sought in this sort of reflection on one's own life, and

hls approach can be instructive. Coherence

(Zusammenhang} is the

ai m For Dilthey, understanding as a cognitive endeavor is always

correlated with coherence. 8 But how do we go about achieving

it?

Here Dilthey calls to mind three 0categories of thought" that are


relevant to the understanding of life: value, purpose, and mea ning or
significance (BedeutungJ.9 These come into play accor ding to the
temporal standpoint one takes. Significance emer ges primarily
thr ough memory, as in retrospect elements of the course of life stand
out and make up a pattern. Value corresp ds to the prese n t and
on
around
attaches positively and negative
ly to the realities of the world
us. And purpose belongs
ation of
to the future as the projected realiz
our values.
be d.is
1 t hey at first says
01
that the three categ orie s cannot
n
tinguished in imp
and i
ortance because they represent d1' fferen t
ed' nd
commensurable
points of view on the whole of life. On s
Va lueS
thought he recogn 1
.
them
g
zes a certain order of pr1ority am on
ni de
in the present
.
aJon ,
d
e
' he says, are in
g
n
themselves merely ra
tht1r
r
one another a n
fo
d
e
d ne1t
, her they nor the purposes devi&

a. Ibid P. 2s1
9 fLl
u1t.d. 201

l
j

The SeJf and


the Cohe re
.
nce of Life
realization make up a
11
pa tt.ern. M ,
us
ic
Ea
i
s
i
nv
oa.
... ed once again: .. It is lik
a cha os of chords and
e
discords
ch
ls
8
structure of notes wh
fi lls a present but has no
.
ich
m us1cal rel
8 ti on to the ot
category of m ea ni ng
"to Only
.
he
rs
the
overco m es
the ch808 of thi
s array and brino
order. Under this catego

O"'
ry b e longs
the no rion o.f the devel
opment of 8
life (Entwicklung}, its un
fold tng
'
accordi n8 to a patte
rn not imposed
on it fro m above or outside
b ut ar is .a ng. out
0f 1'ts own internal shap
ing
(Gestaltung) of itself 1 1 T
h e cate gory of
mea
n
i
ng
is
thu
s
central for
the understanding of the c o .
urse of life b ecause .
enc
it
omp
asses and
orders the things we value
d the purposes we purs
ue. Meaning in

this sense is precisely the

z:a

mmenhang or coherence sought


by all
understanding.
But this pri ori ty of the cat
.
egor of meanmg
i nvolves so m e para
.
doxes as Dilthey 18 aware. He
thmks of meaning primarily' as we
saw, as the category of memory and
of restrospect, and indeed associ.
.
.
ates it with the kind of understandi'ng
the h'istorian can ac ieve
as . ut here he is speaking of it as a category throughh'whi of the
ch the
1nd1v1dual reflects on life as it is going
on. And this is precisely why
the relationship between the parts and the whol
e of a life is "never
quite completed." "One would have to wait for the end of a life, for
only at the hour of death could one survey the whole from which the
.

relationship between the parts could be ascertained."t2 We cannot


wait, of course. For us the meaning of the whole is discernible, if at
all, only from the perspective of one of its parts; and yet its part is
understandable, if at all, only as belonging to the whole. "Under
standing always hovers between these two points of view. Our view
of the meaning of life changes constantly. Every plan for your life
expresses a view of the meaning of life."13

In these passages Dilthey is touching on issues that have far


reaching consequences. Obviously the concept of the hermeneutical
cher, is being
circle, inher ited from his own work on Schleierma
ey has his eye on the
expressed here . And there is no doubt that Dilth
the historian's work and
sort of understanding that is proper to
nschaften as well. He is not
which is found in other Geisteswisse
of understanding a person has of his
spe aki ng her e only of the kind
suggests that a second person (a
or her own life . At one point he
ct advanSchleiermacher) has a distin
biographer, as Dilthey was of

10. Ibid.

p. 232.
12. Ibid., p. 233.
13. Ibid.
1 t. Ibid.,

rrative, an d History
-r
jJ me Na
ely because he does corne J
t recis
a
t age over his s ubj: pc
an assess the w hole. 14 At the ong afltt
d
sam e
death of the fi r st
t; ,,.._
. 0 .,
., hind sight can be defi nit'"
.
1a
r
to
-o.ae no
e
h1s
r
blograp her s
..
end of history to have J
1
the
0
f
or
J e
a1
w
a
to
e
a
v
would h
meaning/' 15 Thus the ProbJ t
rmine its
ernarma. .
te
.
de
c
to

ne essary
ani'ng and retrospection is a quite ge ne c ir1t141
......
e
m
en
e
rat o n
,16
relaUon betw
seen
have
and is not
e.'q'
nto)
a,.
Jitn n
p c ialJ D a
ect
other authors ( e s b o y
t
o the
h ic a J reflection.
auto o O'r ap
l's
us
'd
vt
di
in
the autobiograp hical l
ev 1
does begin at
.
e
h
t
Dil
and h s
l.
Stil
y
b
In
all
of
wh
i
firs
at
.
h
e
t
ther
e
H
h
le
a
s
ca
t
pp
.
say ah...
remarks are a
find three features o f .narrative structure th at We uvut
Bosinn ung we
.
have
d in our discussion of events, experienc e
tere
Oun
c
en
y
d
s and
olrea
cterize d by the bac kward ref.e rence, whe
chara
is
Jt
J
1
actio ns.
reb,Y the
.
. descr
.
th eir
rece1ve
1p
series
hon
8
a
of
es
nd
thear si.g
unfoId.mg phas
Dnto,
Like
Dilthey
.
oint.
con
n
end-
e
cts t his W
nificance from the
it
1t
more
sees
gene
and
ral
tive
Jy
ec
a
persp
s
a
s
an'
n
arrarIVe
the histori
. l tempora J
t
e
specia
h
of
ide
a
The
rela
tion betwe
struc ture. 2)
e
we
found
earlier
instantiated in the
wholes and parts. which
par
of
life,
is
here
treated
activities
and
as
a
ticular events
feature of life
.
as 8 whole 3} In the notion of the search for self-unde rstanding, and
18

:1n
.

'

in that of the reflective composition and re-composition of our im


plicit au t obiographies. we find again the idea that we are at on ce the

spectators of, agents in. and tellers of a story which, in this case, is a

life-story.

These features which "life." as a phenomenon, shares with experi

ences, events, and actions. should not, however, obscure for us th e

differences. In several very important senses life, for the person who
liv es it, Js not Jike an experience he Jives through, an even t he

exper j ence s,

or an action he performs. In spite of the term "life


story furthermore, it differs in some importan ways from most
t
can
other sorts of stories. My birth
is not a beginning that I myself
nd
experience, or even rememb
er (unless we extend those ter ms beyo
.)
the ir usual meanin
gs, as some psychological theor ies wish to do
Nor can I experienc
t e
e my death. The impossibility of witnessing
s
beginn ing and of
actually retrospectively v iewing the whole. afte it
end, does not p
view
revent, as we have seen, that quasi-retrospecfve
.''

H.
15.
16,

Ibid., p. 237.
lbi d p. 233
Otnto i\no/).rt.
ico I
.

'

Philosophy of History.

p. 151.

The Self and the Coherence of Life

79

of the whole of which Dilthey speaks. as if we could view the whole .

or as if we were someone else looking back. Such a quasi- or prospec


ce.
tively retrospective view is indeed part of any action or experien
as we have also pointed out. But clearly the character of this prospec
tive view is affected by the fact that in the case of one's life the
ret rospection can never become real, that I can never literally live

through (surviv e) my own life. Even the most literal believer in an

after-l ife must deal somehow with this paradox, which would lend
to the putativ e heavenly retrospection a character which is odd at
best, and in any case very different from our normal way of looking
back on things we really experienced or did.In this sense one's life as
a "whole" is very different from those other temporal wholes we have
examined so far.
The same can be said of the interrelation of its parts. Events are
unified by being parts of larger events.Actions subserve larger-scale
actions. But the events of someone's life may make up a larger event
only in the trivial sense that they all happened to that person. As for
life as an action, it is true that the "greats," about whom biographies
are written, are often treated as if their whole life were a combination
of means leading up to the end of becoming president, writing
symphonies, etc.It is perhaps by analogy to such persons that some
hold the view that one's life has or ought to have some single purpose
or end, the performance of some particular action or the production
of some product. Few of us, however, lead such single-minded lives.
Even for those whose lives are centered in some "profession" or
"vocation," such a conception fails to do justice to the complex
relation between such an activity and the other spheres of life in
which all of us are inevitably involved: the private, the public or
civic, the family, the emotional and sexual, etc. To v iew these
spheres and the relation among them as a means-end relation is
surely simplistic from several points of view. An individual's life is
taken up in a multiplicity of larger-scale practical endeavors, such as
raising a family and pursuing a career, or gardening and enjoying
music. which simply run parallel rather than serving each other as
means or serving some larger end beyond them.
Again it may seem that those activities are unified only because
they are the activities of one person. Aristotle remarked that, in
effect, such a unity is not narrative unity: "An infinity of things befall
... one man, some of which it is impossible to reduce to unity; and
in like manner there are many actions of one man which cannot be

Time, Narrative, and History

80

..

. "11 A detailed biogl'aph .a


action
y n ri
e
on
f
orm
to
e
SlotJ
mad
e
e
k
a
a
good story.
be yin g does not necessa r1.1 y m
' to

clear
it
the
ake
n
.
. that when
Thsaese cons iderations m
.
we Ila
.
.
tory e should not ex
fe-s
"li
nd
p
ect
scale of ..life" a
" ll d
1on that we fin d
r
nnec
erco
.
int
nd
in
"'
""
intemal un Uy a
e
e
t
.
s
n
ex
'f
,
e
a
en
c
n
e
p
such
s, and
h e-eve t
which make up
0 113
.
however,
that
ude
_ It
questions
co ncl
to
ng
wro
of
u nit
would be.
y
and
or that the concept of n arr
not arise at aJI
arave s t
w hol cness do
ru
. u
bility. We shall fin d other clues to this appJ
,
fi nds no ap Plica
cab1hty f1 .
1 th ey s concept of Zu
in w h'1chD'l
way
ne
s
o
o
ider
m
ns
rnenha
we co
n8
ued.
purs
her
has been furt

th }othe
th

ac/lllerits

2. Self-Au thorship and Authenticity: A Dispute


Dilthey's concep tion has been deepened in the early. wo rk
of
M.artin Heidegger. Near the end of Being and Time Heidegger ex.
plicitly invokes Dilthey's expression der Z u s ammen h a ng des
Lebens, 1 and says that his own work should be considered an
..appropriation"' ofDiltheys.19 Though Heidegger makes this gesture
toward Dilthey in the context of his chapter on historicity," and
link s it to Diltheys attempt to provide a foundation for the

Gelsteswbsenscha/ten, it can easily be seen . I think, that Dilthey's

influence pervades Heidegger's analysis of human existence. It is in


discussing the individual's life, after all, and not in direct connection

with history proper, that the latter introduces the concept of Zusarn
men hong.
We have already remarked that Heidegger in this early work shifts

the emphasis of phenomenology from the passive to the active and


analyzes human existence primarily in terms of the project (Ent
wurfi His Justly influential conceptio
the
n of the "worldhood of
world" is that of a field
of operations for the various interlocking
project of human
concern. The structure of concern or care (S orge)
is 8 temporal struct
u.re: To be human is 1) to be already situ ated in
the world (the .. alre
ady indicates pastness or having been), throw n
..
into it w'th
1
out my having chos
t
wa
gen
(ge
nt
en to be so; 2) to be p rese
17 Poet1e1. HSt
a20.
18 Heldeuer,
Bein g
t!v n Jo the morgl i
n
ut lblu., p.
an. -

ati
ond Tiime, P 373 (references are to the German pagin

on

The Self and the Coherence of Life

81

tig) to my surroundings which are organized into complexes of


equipm ent: and 3) to be .. ahead of myself," as we saw earlier, in the

roj
which determine the organized usefulness of equipment.20
p ects
Thus we encounter here again the prospective-retrospective structure
of temporality.

But for Heidegger my projects are not merely projections of the


world and my surroundings but are ultimately projections of my own

being. The temporal structure of care is really the structure of the


being of Dasein. But as such it is a question of the possibility of the
wholeness or entirety

(Ganzseinkonnen) of my existence, a question

of the integrity or coherence of the whole complex of projects in


which I engage.21
As already suggested by Dilthey, it is in the face of death that the
question of wholeness arises for the individual, not as an interesting
intellectual problem but as an existential issue. We have spoken of
human time as configured time in virtue of the structure of the
events, experiences, and actions of human existence. As we have
seen, this means that the temporal sequence is shaped by beginnings
and ends. In terminations, conclusions, achievements, time is pro
vided with a closure by the very activities in which we are involved.
By calling attention to death, Dilthey and Heidegger (and Macin
tyre makes a similar point)22 are not referring to the simple fact that
we all die, but are pointing to the significance death has for life. For
the individual life, death is the ultimate and irrevocable closure. As
Heidegger says, the extreme possibility of my being is that of non
being. 23 It is the closure of all my projects. Yet neither the fact of its
coming nor the time of its coming is determined, except in the
extrem e case of suicide, by me. It thus looms as the inevitable closure
whos e relation to my ongoing projects is forever problematic.
While we all know that death has this sense, according to Heideg
ger, the character of this knowledge is peculiar. Death is not exactly a
possibility we can envisage. In one sense we know of it through the
death of another, an event within our world. But my own death is not
something I could ever experience as an event in the world, for it
constitutes the limit of my world. Thus resistant to being thought or
experienced, the reality of my own death is more likely to be brought

20.
2 1.

Ibid., pp. 191-96.


Ibid., p. 309.
22. Macin tyre, p. 197 .
23. Heidegger, p. 250.

rati ve, and His tory


fj (J1 8, Na r
82
h as anxiety. Unlike f....
suc
.

p09 ition''
8
a. r
....
dl
"
8 n ll
in 8
l
me
y
f
Js
the
als
reve
a
to
t:U
t
i et \t
e
i
c
om
at
t
h
wh
o

t
c
e

bt
0
o
Y
ar
J
b
u
ei ng Qt:1
e
n
y
e
rld
gag
.
m
r
i
me
n
t
I
w
o
has n o partic
n
he
i t
P
being "d o
against the backdrop or tny n ecta 111
ut
all m y very
"
n
be'ng sta
. The bottom dro s on ..b i
.
dless
n
gener al. My
ou
gr
y
p out ef ng.
li a rl
ears1 ecu
o tny
ll thus app
P 0 prived of a gro und it seem s bereft of se

e.
i
er
e
w
t
s
k
f onbeing always looms at t heed ,
w
. orl d, a
. ro p o n
e
g
be
is
th
r we res i st what lt e of 0ur
ge
Though
e
ei
d
g
H
to
g
ordin
rev6
nos8 a cc
conscious
a 1
' Imme rsed in our everyday concerns we
fro
g
s.
lve
e
urs
o
o
rn
about
with anything too lo ng,
ever
' b red if we stay
p
project to ro
e and ex citing consumed with idle chatt n he
r n
look-out for
which
w
g
e
i
ou
n
ad
nnu
rt
of
B
e
s
s
e
ld
d
o
th
r ss i ts d
elf
too busy to a ffor d
we are doing. We assum
.

;: :

::

e that lim
sense of wha t
e Will
to the over-a 11
g
ro
d
its
un
d
n
ft
will
an
d
ct
r
e
jus
o
j
t ificati on t
eac h p
80 on, and tha t
n
.
t
jec
p
her
anot
ro
according t o He1 degger, to se ekin g refug
All this is equiv alent,
e in
anonymous
everyon
and
e-a
n
al
o
r
s
ndp
e
i
m
no-on e in
das Man, the

.
with
eable
every other . What t
interchang
is
dual
indivi
each
whi ch
he
1
contrast,
1
reveals,
by
death
we
on
I
y
with
confrontation
face it, is the
radical my-own-ness (/emeinig keit} of human existence. D e ath is that
which utterly individualizes or isolates (schlechthin vere.inzelt), says

Heidegger.2 Just as no one can di e it for me, so n o one can live my


life for m.e either. "Resoluteness which anticipates m y own death ''

(vorlaufende Entschlosseneit) i s Heidegger's expression for taking


over responsibility for my own life, wresting it from the anon ymity of
dos Man..2, It is what h e calls Eigentlichkeit, a term wh ich links

genuineness to myown-ness (je meines, mir eigen


esJ and is usually
translated ,,.aut hent icity.'' For
Heidegger it constitutes genu in e self

(Selbstheit).26
is is, of course, Heidegger at his most "existe alis " the aspect
t,
nti
of his early work
most influenced by K i er k a
e g ard mo st akin to his
contemporary Karl
Jas pe rs, and most importa
nt for the French existen tialists ' esp
.
.
ecial) Y ] P. S artre
. In the terms of our own d1scuss1on,
1.
Jin
ng what Heid
egger says to our
conception of the narrative fea
tures of h uma n
existence or
"life" as a whole wh at seems d ecisi ve to
Heidegg er in
the
f
co n cept of authenticity
authorship
is rea lly the pro blem 0
He ta k es
up Dilthey's
..
notion
ical Besin
hood

'

of autobiograph

2.-.. Ibid
pp, 266, 240
.
25. Ibi
d.,. p. 329
26. Ibid.,
p. a 16

The Self and the Coherence of Life

83

nung on the whole of one's life, though in more dramatic terms: it is


occasioned by anxiety and the contemplation of one's own death,
and constitutes a "call of conscien ce. ''27 If the closure of birth and
deat h make problematic the integrity of my life-sto ry, what counts for
Heidegger, it seems, is whether I am composing it myself or drifting
along according t o a script of ind eterminate or anonym ous au
thorship. This drift is the evasion of responsibility: I am, it seems,
responsible for my own life only if I am its author. Or, more precisely,

I am responsible whether I realize this or not; the question is


whether I accept or evade this responsibility.
Both Schapp and Macintyre object to this emphasis on authorship.
Though Schapp does not say so, he seems to be reacting to Heidegger
when he affirms that the interlocking stories of which life consists
are not authored, not "made" at all . Rather, "one finds them" (man
findet sie vor) (that is, they are already there and are ongoing) "and
one is either caught up in them (in sie verstrickt), as one is caught up
in one's own story, together with the others who are likewise caught
up (die anderen mitverstrickten), or one takes a distance from them"

as an outside observer.28 Schapp's graphic and striking term Ver


stricktsein, to be caught up or entangled in, expresses the most

intimate possible relation between the self and the various stories of
which human reality is made up, including even one's own life
story.29
Macintyre, having himself introduced the notion of the human
agent as both actor in and author of his own story, immediately
retreats from the notion of self-authorship. "We are never more (and
sometimes less) than the co-authors of our own narratives," he

writes. 30 Maclntyre's remarks are explicitly directed against the exis


tentialist ideal (or idol, he would say) of authenticity, though in
Sartre's rather than Heidegger's version. As Macintyre reads Sartre,
the emphasis is slightly different: for Sartre, to be involved in any
narrative is t o be playing a pre-established social role and thus to be
in bad faith. My role is always other than "I" am . But the link with

Heidegger is this: the pre-established character of the role suggests


that I am not its author. If I could coinci de with my narrative (the
coinc idence of the in-itself and the for-itself) I would be its autho r

27.
28.
29.
30.

Ibid., pp. 270-301.


Schapp, p. 204"'
Ibid., p. 86.
Macintyre, p. 199.

A
.
,,.,l m
,

Na rrative. and Hi sto ry

d Sartre share the sarne id


gger a n
e
d
i
o
.
H
caJ of e
.
p JY that S art
. re
s1m
hel'O
. With
i P ' it is
h
trag c utl1ell.
ond its
s
or
h
t
i
u
se l f
Pat
n able .
ai
tt
ticity as
a
n
'
.
al u
o
ii
d
a
y
e
Macint
re affirms
th
es, and
iev
bel
i
n
be]icvos
1
no u
ru1ren t y
.
.
n ce
a

y 1s an 1 11us1o
n of rnod
ticit
en
t.
uth
Schapp Pr
{a
e
o
r
ni
tt
dea
i
6
h
nd
t
.
the
course
social wo
het
. Of
l\tidu
ss
e
n
d
terms ' t
e
rld
r
.
con sr.
.
If-cen te
s
ongoing stories not
nd se
t
a
.
and
s
m
les
Hs
Of
ro
a
of rn
o c 1 aJ
y rn t ,
.
JShe d s
I.
b
d
un
erstoo
aa.ifl&
be
ta
d
s
as
to
e
1s
a
'
e
.
c
m
n
a
Preste
tt
er of a
ex i
.
n
a
m
H
die parts dete rmined by the alread
rn.
they say. 0.
ut
o
y eXrs
g
n
ri
e
s
ttng
d
caught up in alr
ing an
eady o
finding onese lf
.
I
es
ro
ng01n
r of
g
repertoa
wn Jife story. And this .is not
o
e's
on
g
h n
u d'm
d
.
an
on
g
i
s
.
.
e
storie

f rom one 's


perceive as a 1 1enahon
true seir
1ze for or
l
o
g
o
.
p
8
shou Id.
t fro m the intersection of these stori e s. M
tt.
o se If apar
.
n
Y OWJt
.
is
re
he
T
an d bod 1es of my p ar
d
s
min
the
in
ents ev
und e rway
.
en
. .
story was
e
J
ec1s1ve
ements
d
in
uded
my
incl
ear
and
ly ch'1 I
th '
d.
befo re m y b.Jr
of
myself
as
a
aware
dist
e
inc
ecam
t
i
I
b
n
re
d
befo
i
vi
dual.
hood even
.
an amalgam of roles and stori
then
is
story
fe
i
l
es: the
As 1 matu re . my
stories
various
in
the
whi
play,
ch
I
1 becorne
ma n y social role s
what
as
,
Macintyre would call
aJJ, of course
a
invol ved . I affect them
take
ever
could
I
comp
that
e
lete
c h arge, or
coauthor. But to suppos
to regret tragically that I cannot, is to succumb to the illusion of being
84

or desiring to be God.

Thus th e two authors who have heretofore done the most with the

idea of nar rative as the key to understanding the structure of the


individual's life are alike in rejecting the idea of self-authorship .

What are we to make of this dispute and what effect does it have on
our co nception of the connection between narrative and personal
identity?
.
Jt might be thought that by

denying to the agent the conc urr ent role


of author, Scha pp and
Macintyre are reaJJy robbing their theories of
what makes the term
"nar rative" appropriate in the first place. As we
.
sa w in
the last c h apter,
the concept of narrative involves not onJ Y a
.
seri es of (hum
an ) events unfold
ing in time according to a structure.
but a Jso a pro
spe ctive-retrospe
at
ctive grasp which holds together th
unfo Jd' n
g an d constitutes
o
its structure. It is this grasp which len d s t
the va . o u s
P h ases of
ning'
actwn and exp
middle or
erience their status of begi n
en d a nd
.
.
a r ts
thus constitu
receive th
tes a whole from which the. P
e1r s1g
. r11. fi
.
hor,
ca
narration
nee. put in the simplest terms of the met8 p d
rcqure s
n ot 0n J Ya
ppan
Maclntyr
story but
also a story-telle r. Sc ha
e see rn
.
to be iv
an d
thus Wit

ing
us a story without - a story-te IJ er,

hout an
.
org a n1z
ing princip
le.
.

The S If and th

Coh rence of Life

85

AltornBtl ly. if tho authorial rolo ls gronted but not accorded to


th individual in his or hor own llfu, porheps it ls vested in God, in
f l in History, or indoeti in tho anonymous Man of Heidegger. The
Ar t hvo ro popular and recurring litorory end rollgious themes, of
cours ! th idea that one ls acting out or carrying out a divine (or
p rhaps Satanic) plan. that the roal Author of Our Being has already

composed the script according to which we act. Kafka's Prozess gives


prussion to so1n thing close to Heidegger's dos Man, where the

unfo lding "plot" is unsettling not because it is straightforwa rdly evil


but because it is anonymous and its authorship and guiding princi

ples are hidden.

Such conceptions of external authorship may thus be either dis


quieting or consoling but they share the idea that the individual
behaves blindly, functioning in ignorance of the true principles be
hind his or her actions. This may seem an exaggeration, but is it not
ultimately the sense of Schapp's notion of Verstricktsein, and Macln

tyre's of being at most a co-author, sharing authorship with others


and with an anonymous tradition? ls this not the result of separating
narrative from authorship?
This conclusion, however, overlooks an important distinction. It
will be noticed that when we introduced the idea of the different
"points of view" on our action and experience in the last chapter, we
spoke of the point of view of the story-teller or narrator, not of the

author. The distinction between these two has always been impor..

tant in literary theory, of course, since in a story the narrator often

turns up as a quasi-character who is as much a projection of the


author (and as distinguishable from him or her) as any of the charac
ters. And even in everyday conversation, one can tell or relate a story
without being its author.
This distinction is relevant to the present context because the
story-teller or narrator shares part of the author's relation to the
events he or she narrates, without being their source. What we picked
out as the primary trait of the story-teller remains true, even if he is
only the narrator, namely that he knows the story. He has command,

and embodies the voice of authority vis..a-vis his audience and the
voice of irony vis-a-vis his characters. just as if he were the author.
What counts in the complex interrelationship of story-telling, ac
cordingly, is not authorship at all, but just narratorship.
This serves Schapp's and Maclntyre's narrative strategies very well.
Dnied the kind of authorship envisaged by Heidegger, the individ
u al is not left, as the latter seems to think, a blind auton1aton. Just as I

,
Time

86

Narrative, and History

tently, knowingly, and su c


c ornpe
cessf
n
o
li
ac
h
t
an
n
er
m
y
rath
a
o
an
wn
Ully b
pl
, 80 1 c
orm
ca n P erf
e else 's
an 1 i
.
.
.
n
Y
o
1
e
ve
shion with out c aiming au
ut so m
o
fa
g
tn
nt
n
yi
re
y
e
rr
thors
c oh
hip
rf ectl
e
p
a
of
1 e in
hfe.
y

tt
r
is
a
m
rac t1ve an
of
He1 degge
d in l
the st ory
onse to
llan
p
es
r
s
.
i
d
h
d
in
t
y
l
ea
ad
to
gh
m
,
t
eq
ot,
m
u
n
u
ho
s
T
a ely . Y reoe
.
With
g, '1t d

c1
n
1
v
n
alt
philosopher, or with the full
at
th
spects co
y
d b
r
e
a
s
ai
n
r
1
g
e of
ems
bY 0.1 t h ey s concep
the probl
tion o
to the fore
ht
g
.
ou
f th
ena b r
tern phng to try to r
e
phenom
ebens. It is
el
L
au
des
v
1
ns
a
e
enh
or
.
zusamm
alists' concern with authenticit y b y vie w
nti
e
t
1
s
. . 1
.
1ng 1't
.
the Ex
d
ind ustnal socie
tr 1v1a 1ze
. on of the malaise of mo ern .
ty
and th
essi
as the expr
e
adr1. f t 1n a chaotically
Cast
roles.
'
al
on
chang1.
tr a d I t i
f
o
.
n
w
n
o
brea kd
a ced with a plurality of social rol
. 1nd'1 v 1'du al is f
es ags
e
h
t
ty
cie
so

tion, and if h
produc
mass
of
ts
objec
e reJect
85 the
s
.
standard.1zed
ac
k
h
upon
b
ims
thrown
.
elf.
y
el
t
a
m
h
T
e
i
ult
call for
is
these ro I es he
. p, whether one believes
horshi
it c ap able
1 ty or se l f aut
of
authentci'
the
that
behef
1nd1v1
the
dua
l
really
is
ulti mately
realization or not,
s
lf.
Critic
such as Macintyre are
but to himse
has nowhere else to turn
suggesting that the alternative is a false one, but it is uncle ar how it
can be avoided short of a return to "traditional" society. Whether

such a thing ever existed, and if it did, how its return could be

effected.

are

great enough problems. But even if these were solved it


,

is u n clear whether the ind ividual in such a society would be any less
s ubj ect to the features of existence which Heidegger brings into the

open.

3. Settling the Dispute over Authen city


.
ti

The dispute over authorsh ip


and authenticity can be resolve d only
r
1 we reco gniz
e that some
insights and som e over sights lie on both
.
s1des.
Heidegger
to be
gin w. i th , seems to me to have raised two distinctf
issues with
out recog
nizin theu d
em o
coherence
g
1stinctness. One is the probl
versus in
f
coheren e
blem o
authorshi

e , wh1ch
.ts sepa rate from t he pro
.
p; and th
e secon
or ship,
Which hi
d is the legitimate
problem of auth
s op Po n
s
e nts 0ver1
10 tu
1 su e
ook. Let us examine each of these 5
rn
We have
already
!J.
seen th
lem at
8 pro
at narrati ve
e
the lev
m
o
c
coherence can be
el of
sed
Par t1cular
.
-cros
s
ex perienc
s
ri
C
.

s
es and a c tion

'

87

The Self and the Coherence of Life

and interrupted by other events, extended and complex experiences


and actions can lose t heir coherence for us, their Zusammenhang in
the l iteral sense of their hanging together or connectedness. Stock
takj ng . reflecti o n in the sense of Besinnung, del i beration: these are
all expressions for t he act of restoring our temporal grasp on an
experience or act ion when that grasp seems to be slipping. In the
case of action, changing circumstances can bring it about that plans
have to be altered to varying degrees, or even completely abandoned.
We a l l know what it is to 0 l ose track" of what we are doing while we
are doing it. In some cases i t may be perfect l y clear

what

we are

doing i n the immediate sense (hammering a nail, writing a memo)


but not why we are doing it, that is,

how it fits into or hangs together

with a larger project and the other actions that belong to it. It be
comes detached from its original purpose and stands isolated i n time
from its surroundings; that is, from what precedes and follows it.
The larger project, of which it and other sub-actions are parts. has
disintegrated for us, has lost its wholeness, completeness, or co
herence.
What Heidegger's concept of Angst cal ls to mind is that such
disintegration can at times be rad icalized and general ized in a per
son's life, and can apply not to some particular project but to the
whole complex of projects in which the individual is involved and
their interrelation. Nothing "makes sense" any more, we tend to say,
.
where "making sense . is just that idea that each item stands in a
means-end or similar relation to the others. that the whole i s going
somewhere and hangs together.
Heidegger's portrait of inauthentic existence contains two d isti nct
features: the concept of anonymous authorship and i n ter
changeability expressed i n dos Man is one; the other is that of idle
chatter, the frantic pursuit of novelty for its own sake. the "ambigu
ity" i n which every project loses its d istinctness.31 This second
feature emphas izes the degree to which human existence can be full
of activity and talk, yet empty of "meaning"-that is, again. of co
herence and interconnection. Whether this form of existence is a
(fa lse) respon se to the ground lessness reveale d by anxiety. or i s itself
the very incoherence revealed by anxie ty (and for Heidegger it seems
to be both) , it is clear that it exhibits the radical incoherence whereby
the ele ments of life become detached from each other and fai l to add
3 1 . Heidegger, pp. 16775.

at ive , an d His t o ry
T..i m e , Narr
88
eid egger 's well-cho se n wor '
d Zer
. is i n H
e1n
Das
.
le
stre
who
u p to a
d, d i sc on necte d .32
u t .
se
er
d
isp
'
d
e
stract
fragmen ted d1.
y h ere t h at t h i' s asp ect of
renth etica l l
the
ote
ul
sho
We
n ize the kern e l of
recog
to
s
u
tru th
m its
ity
of inau thenti c
P ' vist s we critic i ze d in chap ter o n e Lou n t he
.
is Mi L
arrat 1
n
views of the. n
be reca I I e d , s u gges t th
i
l
l
w
it
.
.
ers
at h
nd oth
,
te
1
en
ayd
H


g but mere sequence w i thou t be Utn an
l f 1 s not h i n
g1. nn i n
e
.
.
1ts
i
n
..
ty
reali
m
o
t
s
h
s
i
n
i
ce
es
ere
U
en
coh
tia y ali
t narrative
"
en
or end and tha
1terar y o r h 1 s t orica l 1m agin a
l
e
h
t
by
out
u o n.
sed fro m with
We
.
. ' unpo
1t
' s view, t h at narrati
1
h
t
t
o
ion
osit
ve
opp
co
n
herenc
have argu e d, i
e
ien ce or a ction
exper
ntary
eleme
most
the
th
a
even
.
1 t is
.
beIongs t o
the very fact of hav i ng an e:xp
of
re
featu
ural
ruct
eri' enee
an essen t 1'al st
n.
tio
.
or perform ing an ac
'
nce of H e i d egger s noti on of Ang
porta
m
i
the
now
ing
st
In admit t
_ ng
i
ow
l
for
l
a
m
o
fact
s
n
i
are
ethin
we
g
we have
and of Zerstre u tsein
y
el
m
that
a
n
t
a
start:
higher levels of
tacitJy recogn ized from the
complexity something special i s req u i re d , i n the way of a reflexive

0ti on

t!

temporal grasp, to hold together the phases of these larger-scale


phenomena and to preserve their coherence. This i s in turn o admit

that they have a tendency, or at least a capacity, t o fly apart


fragment, thus losing their narrative coherence.

or

to

It is at such times, moments of " d i straction" a n d d isconnedion,

that the events, experiences, a n d actions of real l i fe do indeed as


sume the character of a "mere sequence, " the senseless progression
of '"one thing after another" s o often m en t i on e d i n these theori es
This formlessn ess is a feature not only of m oments of frantic con
.

fusion but also of experi ences of extrem e bored o m and tedi um.
8
,, Are we being inconsist ent in a d m
i tt i n g t h e possi bility of such
so
mere sequen ce when we
have l i n ke d narra t i ve coh eren ce
in
closely with the very
essen ce of h u m a n exper i ence ? Yet th e
f
cohe nce of the
pe o
t
ble
mere
ssi
y
seque nce i s not s o much a po

e
experience as it is
the dark and l oo m i n g o u ter l i m i t o f ex peri ence, th
e
chao wh'ic h s
p riene
and oppos ed to order. I
8
t i s t h e threat th at ex d
will
e J
s over into its
opposi te. Th i s i s a thre at whi ch is, adm i
P
in va ing
degrees, perm
ane ntly pre sen t a t the per i p h ery 0 0
con sc1 ou sne
ss ' th e very h
t reat a n d p os s i b i l i ty of ma d n ess.
It may see
ere
m para d ox .
wit h Jll
Wh
s
1ca
ao
h
J
t
o
c
i dent i fy tem p o ral
seq u ence
of tbe
at i s more
ng
i
k
c
ti
orde red and rel i a b l e tha n th e

32. Ibi d.,


p. 129.

Th e Self an d the Coherence


of Life

89

metronome or the bea ting of the hea rt? Yet this steady beat is trad
i
tio nal ly associated with disi ntegratio n. dissolution and death,
with
th o lac k of form. whi le form is existence and life. Succeed ing mo
ments are the san ds of tim e flowing away; they are l i ke an insi diou
s
erosi on or an unravell ing of fabric. "Tim e like an ever-roll ing stream
bears all its sons away." Sequence und ermines existence itself.
Does this mean that the .. struggle" of existence is to over
come time
itse lf? Certain ly it is often thought that only refuge in etern ity tri
umphs over the ravages of time. But all this supposes that time is
iden tified with mere seque nce. Huma n existence and action as we
ha ve describe d them consis t not in overcoming time, not in escaping
it or arresti n g its flow, but in shapin g and forming it. Human time in

our sense is configu red time. The narrative grasp of the story-te ller is
not a leap beyond time but a way of being in time. I t is no more alien

to time than the curving banks are alien to the river, or the potter's
hands to the clay. Mere sequence is like the "prime matter" of the
philosophers and theologians. It is not something we coul d ever
experience. It is a l imiting concept: the thought of what lies beyond
our experience, yet has a force of its own which runs counter to it.
like a gravitational pull. The experience of the pull of chaos is our
only experience of mere temporal sequence.
The problem with theorists such as White and Mink is not that
they postulate the possibility of such a meaningless sequence, but
that they turn things upside down: they place it at the heart of human
experience, giving us as sad and depressing (and inaccurate) a pic
ture of human reali ty as we can imagine. Then they propose narrative
coherence as a fanciful but d istorting and alien superimpo sition, a
drea m of coherenc e where in fact there is none. For them, the mad
ness is to suppose that the real world has narrative coherence, while
the hard -nosed rea list su pposed ly recognizes it has none.
While it is often an arrest ing intelle ctual manoeuver to turn things
on their heads , can we not say that those views merely express the

fru stration that come s of too high expec tation s? It is true that some
literary narrati
have some thing defin itive about them that life

ves

never has. They do not just end: they give us what Kermode calls "the
sense of an endi ng" in whic h, happ ily or sadl y, all the threads of the

plot are neat ly tied up and everythi ng is expl aine d. Life , to be sure, is
not like that . But are we just ified in con clud ing that , sinc e the events
of o
neatly as those of a good story, they

ur lives do not fit together as


occur rand oml y, sim ply one after the other? Or t h at our lives are

Tim e , Narrative, and Hist ory

90

s a h ubb ub of sta tic a n d n oi s e? B eca


use
scr amb l e d me ssage '
. We expe
beg 1 n n 1 ngs, and n o ult i m atel
.
te
olu
abs
y s at i sf
rien ce no neat
yng
. i. t cor rec t t o say th
an d
is
at
s.
ing
w
d
e
en
h
y
a
v
r
e non
.
a 1 1 -exp lan ato
e
.
a t al l
?
the rol e o f nar rat i ve str u cture a n d na
Wh en we stress
rr
a
ti
v
.
e
co.
.
day experience w e are far fro m cla i m in
g t ha
h erence in every
t th e
wel l-rou n de d nes s o f a sati sfy ing sto ry. Wh
latter exhibi ts the
at
We are
ati ve c oh eren ce i s th e norm " or the "ru
narr
that
is
g
tin
asser
le ,, a n
d
terms : fi rs t , in the rath er co llo
these
of
es
sens
q ui a l 's
that in two
obtai ns for the most part . Thi s is sim p ly to
that it is norma l . it
a i
.
o
ost
us,
of
the
f
most
hme,
for
that
thi
ngs do , aft

the banal truth


er
.
11
a
te
Desp
te
ether.
g
t
impe
hang
dim
1
e,
e
sens
nt
s thro wn
all, make
.
.
.
.
infuriating
the
and
c1hes
obstr
mcapa
ucti on s of
up by our own

"

out.

side circumstances and other peo p l e , we manage. Our lives may not
be works of art or things of beau ty, but we muddle through neverthe
less and actually get thi ngs done. What is dreamlike or fanciful is

not, as Hayden White claims, to think that our lives have coherence
but, on the contrary, to imagine (perhaps because we read too many

good stories) that they have none.


But narrative coherence is the norm or rule in the second sense
that it is the standard which determines even that which deviates

from it. When plans go awry, when things fall apart, it is by reference
t o or by contrast with story-like projections, "scena rios," that they do
. so. What occurs "ran d omly" in " mere sequence ," "one thing after
another," etc., is, i n terms of human rea l ity, the privation precisely f
narrative coherence. I n the last chapter we referred to the radw
announ cer describ ing a basebal l game to his audie nce as it hap pns,
his to ri l
and compared his activity to that
of the mere chronicl er of
events . He simply describe
wh ich 11
s what happens in the order i n
t orical.
happens. B ut the
point often made against t he idea of a hi s
oss t
chro nicl e a 1 ies

h ere too, namely, that s u c h a person cannot p


PP
.
ble
bl Y ? escrib
e everyth ing that happen R
es poss i'
at
p
tici
an
h
e
s ather
es to
tones ( ifferent out comes of the gme for exam ple) an d tri
'
m clud e in h . s
oe0 ne
I acco unt everything that may be needed bY 5or
who event ual ly
te1 1 s t h e story of
the game.
. .
S 0 It
Y 8re
i s with th
e even ts and actions of our lives ; e1' ther t he
cta
alrea dy e b d
e e
ded in the stori
a
d
s
an
n
es provided by o ur pl
xes to
t ion s or
t ey re not,
s o
e
th
. t nat "re

we look for and anticipate


whic h t y
wh
do , will or
i
'
m ay be l ong. Narra tive coherencc s
11t
fin d or effect
eX1 6
e
. mu ch of
in
h
t
.
o ur experience a n d acti. o n , an d to
11
tha t we do
rore
.
not . we aim
s
re
for it, try to prod uce it, an d t ry to
when it go
nse
. .
5e
es mis
d
s i ng for
B
fO
wh atever rea son. I t is i n th i s b
'

The Self and the Coherence of Life

91

that we insist that everyday reality i s permeated with narrative. In


this sense it is anything but an artifact of the
That the

literary imagination.

imaginat ion is involved there is no doubt, where we are

deaJing with the future or otherwise with a rea lity that does not
always match our desires and expectations. But, as we have pointed
out. this is a practical and not an aesthetic affair, a matter of coping

with reality, not of providing alternatives to it. It is our practical

imaginati on that is involved .


From these considerations it should be clear that the narrative
character or structure of our experience and action is not something
that simply

va de soi. Life can be regarded as a constant effort, even a

struggle, to maintain or restore narrative coherence in the face of an


ever-threatening, impending chaos at all levels, from the smallest
project to the overa ll "coherence of life" spoken of by Dilthey.
It should be noted, furthermore, that this struggle takes two dis
tinct forms. One is the more narrowly practical effort of fitting the
" pieces, " so to speak, into an already determined story we have at
our disposal, such as an accepted account of another person's actions
or a firm plan or project of our own. Like the observed data in relation
to an established scientific theory, individual events and actions may
appear anomalous and some effort may be required to see how they
fit into the story. In one's own ongoing projects such a problem is
repeatedly posed by unexpected circumstances. But, again l i ke a
scientific theory, it may be the story itself which is called into
question, whether because of the anomalous or for other reasons, and
a di fferent and more general " practica l " problem is posed. The ques
tion then is not: " How does this or that event or action fit into the
story?" but rather: "What is the story?"

In the terms of o u r earlier description, what comes into play here is


that reflective, stock-taking temporal grasp by which we call to mind

the narrative whole, at w hatever level-whether a whole action OI' a

whole life. B u t it is this whole which may on occasion disintegrate

and l eave us searching for an a lternative. The distinction between


these two levels, or registers, at which the problem of narrative
cohere nce presents itself, i s something that is not fu l l y appreciated
by Schapp, nor perhaps by Macintyre either. Both use the notion of
"story " as a way of accounting for particular actions and events; we
know what some human event is, or we understan d a person's action,
by placing it in the context of a larger story; and this is the way we

account for our own action as wel l , even to ourselves. That is, we
acc ount for the parts by appealing to the whole. As we have seen,

92

Ti m e, Narrative, and Hi s t o ry

the narra tivis t p h i l oso ph


.
pa ra l l el to
s
ers of h
u
h
t
s
i
ry
th ei r theo
isto,.,,
1
s
n
ano
exp
an
.
The d i ffer
" as
ry
o
t
s
"
e
L.

en ce i . ,.
who h 1i..ew 1se us
of
level
the
eve
at
ryd ay ac ti
In tyre use it
o n ands that
.
Schap p and M ac
self.
to descn. be the his torian'
tha n m erely
.

s b acklY

ra th e

ard
.
Ma ci n tyre goes o n to see a moral dimen s 1
nts

eve
h
past
n
look at
. n
ere
uestio
What a m I to do? ' '
. .. 1 can only an swer the q
1
1
1f
as we
1 can
f w hat story or stories d o I fi nd
n
o
io
st
q
e
u
rior
h
rn yselJ
answer t e P
. t . s not a 1 ways possib
.
a
l e to co
1, ,,33 To be su re. h e admi ts 1 1
part.
.
rne up
co m p 1 ai ns-as do som e
er: " Whe n someone
of thOse
Wl' th an answ
a
h
or
s
h
t
th
d
er
f
'
I
1
1
e i s mean i
com mit s u 1 c1 e-w h o attem pt or
g1ess
II
.
.
h
nshca
co
y
aracte
s
c
mpl
p
perha
ain ing that
and
the
h e 0r she is often

1g1
bl
"
1
1
nte
un
e
to
e
1
becom
them
has
,
tha
ife
l
t it Jach
narrative of their

aware ness,

"34

any pomt. .
ing: "the narrat ive has become unin.
But notice Maclntyre's word
a n a rrative , d earl y esta b.
telligib le," as if there simply were such
l ished, and the i n d i vi d u a l 's pro b l em is merely a J ac k of

comprehension . And when he says that the individual mu st ask "of


hat story do I find m yself a part?" ( h is terms recal l Schapp 's ich

finde sie vor) again he suggests that t h e story i s a l ready written, as by


some invisible hand, and his problem a s a moral agent is simply
making out the text .

Would it were so. It is true, of course. that t h e chaos and

confusion

of everyday reality can often be coun tered by a d opting a pre-given


role. To do simply what others, or society i n genera l , expect of m e in
my role as father. worker. citizen, o r whatever, may indeed provide
an answer to specific problems of acting i n a n d comp rehendi ng my
situati on. Provided no conflict presents i tself among these vari ous
possible roles. and that what is expected i s i mmediately clear. such a
slution can be a consol ing and comforting one i n a diffi cul t situa
bon.
r. is
What Heidegge r and
the other existen t i a l ists perceive, howeve
that there is no necessi ty for my taking o n any such ro1e, no matter
h-'z" clarly or unproblematica l J y it presents itself to me . and that IIlY
ta...ing 1t on consUt ut a ch0 1ce
When
.
or poss ible choice of my own
I
..
say possible choi ce " 1 am trying to accou n t for th e weII known
exi stenUI " st para dox that
To
not choosing is also a wa y of c h oos1 n8 f
fall bl. J
ection1 Je ;;ca: ua J ly an d unthi nking ly i n to a l e or coue;e
.

es

33. Maclntyl'b
p. 201.
... lbld
3..
. .. p. 202 .

ven
cho ose among poss
i bl e alternati ves , e

The Self and the Coherence of Life

93

latter do not occur to us consciously. The non-necessity of any given


course of action or life i s in any case, according to the existentialists,
brought home to us not as a conscious awareness of a multiplicity of
alternatives, but rather in the occasional bout of Angst, vertigo, or
nausea. The language of the emotions and even literally of the "guts"
indi cat e that the phenomenon in question is not an intel
is use d to
ognit i o n , b u t it reveals something to us nevertheless.
le ctu al c
Heidegger compounds the paradox by linking Angst to the term "call
of conscience" (Ruf des Gewissens ) , thus combining the immediacy
and directness of the feelings with the lofty appeal and force of a
moral obligation. Yet the obligation has no particular moral content,
an d what Angst reveals is not any specific mode of life or course of
action. It reveals merely the inevitability of self- choice, and the only
obligation is to recognize or acknowledge it.
This is to say that the problem of self-authorship cannot be so
eas ily disposed of as Macintyre may think. But to see this point one
must recognize that authenticity for Heidegger is not a question of
the content of the narrati ve or story of one 's life, and certainly not a
. question of its "originality, " though this is a common misconstruc
tion. The fault may l i e with Sartre's appropriation of the notion
which is, admittedly, Maclntyre's real target. But the fault may be
partly Heidegger's as wel l . In Being and Time, inauthenticity is
presented primarily i n terms of idle chatter, "curiosity," "ambiguity, "
and fragmentation or d is traction (zerstreu tsein). The notion of au
thenticy, by contrast, l i nks coherence (Zusammenhang or Zusam

rnenholen), wholeness (Ganzsein), and selfhood (Selbstsein), as if


these always went together. But, as we have pointed out, the fragmen
tation of existence can be overcome by the assumption of a rigi dly
laid-out social role which is still at the level of das Man . That is,
inauthenticity can be a matter of either too little or too much co
herence. Authentic ity is not a matter of this or that social role, or of
the fact that it is a social and thus traditiona lly prescribed role; it
consi sts rather in the recogniti on that, whatever the role, it is I who
choose it in the end, one way or another.
The moral aspect of this is that the questio n of respon sibility is not
enti rely dispos ed of by reference to the relation between a given

con duct and the story which renders it intellig ible. For I am respon
sibl e not only for the particu lar action itself but also for the story or
sto ries in which I "find myself" involved.

In the terms of o u r narrative metap hor, this mean s that while I may
not write the story, I choos e the story in which I am cast as a

Ti me, Na rrative, and Hist ory


ry h as a lready been writt
.
t0
en tln
character. even tf th e 5
d the
.
re
.
fo
be
d
1
.
pl ay has been playe
priat e i nterp retat ion o
.
app
ro
re
mo
'
f
TL - t h lS is the
the
i rnsl
tloti
th e en d of Bei n g a
near
ar
cle
n
es
OT\ of
d
m
n
beco
l
.
i
ne
. ity
authentic
' L
historicity. 35 He ta kes
of
t
p
nce
u p 8\.tch
er treats the co
Heid
> tcs
n between the in di
latio
re
egg .
the
vi dua 1 t ol
past
as the h1ston' cal
8.nd L.r
t of commu nal e
ii
.
(briefly) the concep
xistence.
d
an
.
on
rau
B
gene
u
.
t
hl&

topacs to t h e 1 ndi Vi d
.
ua l cau
is to rela te t h ese
g1ii
primary co ncem
.
llp
authen h ca 1 1y. He1.d egge r wants to
.
a of exi sting
shoW t L.
m th e d ram
'
.
ri t and contin ue a tra d ah on . emul ate heroea fro ....1411
'
Dase m can nhe
rn
tru e to them, even defer to the ir "a utb the
and
l
loya
be
on.ty "
past an d
_ ..J b y one s h a' ston. ca 1
ateu
pos
indic
iti
..
o
"fate
n
8
an
d d.o all
even act Out
one realiz es that all these are
ded
provi
y.
ll
ntica
che>sen.
thls authe
te manner. The differe ce,
resolu
a
in
over
in oth
n
freely taken
ting
unreflec
and
follo
blind
wer
the
and
t he Ptou
words. is between
ion
dit
tra
a
of
r
.
and conscious beare
When one reads Being and Time bac kward thro ugh the Sartrean

94

theory it helped influence , one is struck by a sharp contrast when


one arri ves at this chapter: the authentic self, which had seemed a

figure of iconoclastic rebellion from the mass. all erratic originality


in rejecting humdrum conformity. now emerges as a stern and proud

traditionalist paying homage by obedience to the authority of the

past. This is a figure with which Macintyre should feel comfortable.


Yet the element of authenticity as self-choice remains. and it is

hard to see how Macintyre and others can avoid this aspect The
story which knits together and renders coherent and whole the loose

strands of my life. whether it is new and original or has been to ld and

lived many times before me. is ultimately my responsibility, whether

I consciously choose it or assume it by default or i nadvertence.

4.

Being in Time

Let us now try to


our 0"'11
draw together the loose stran ds of
account.

As man y other auth ors hav e note (


d and we have drawn
n H u er l. Heid egger, an
d al
d D i l th ey ) to be a h u man ind i v i
O be
IDSlanha te a
tis
sno
r ' l sort of
m i t IS.
a
o
t
ot
b
At
relati
onshi p to time.
bt
sure, to be
always .. loc
hUS to
ated '" in a n ever-chan gi n g now an d t

8:8

as. Heidqger,
PP. 372
-404.

P!:

The Self and the Coherence of Life

95

like everything else, to temporal sequence. But it is much


s u bjecte d.
more than this. It is not merely to undergo or endure or suffer this
as it comes, one thing at a time. (The v iew we have crit
sequen ce
Hayd en White, Louis Mink, and others seems to be that
icized of
existence has this sequential character at some level. it
si nce hu man
nothing but this ). Nor is the individual merely a tem
is in realit y
ting. underlying substance which supports the chang
pora lly persis
time as subject to its predicates or properties. like a
i ng effe cts of

as
thi ng. N or yet does it merely accumulate "traces" of what goes by.
does a path which bears the footprints of those who have passed.
Each of these metaphors for human temporality has been tried. and
each contains some truth. but all are inadequate.
Like the Here in relation to the space we perceive, the Now is a
vantage point from which we survey the past and the future. To exist
humanly is not merely to be in time but to encompass it or "take it
in" as our gaze takes in our surroundings. It is not that I exist in t h e
present and then happen to have the capacity t o envisage t h e future
and remember the past: rather, human reality is a kind of temporal
"reach" or "stretch"; what Heidegger calls an Erstreckung.36

Whatever else it is, to exist as a person is to experience and to act.


We have tried in the previous two chapters to show how our temporal
"reach" applies itself to and is manifested in the events we experi
ence, in our experiences t he m se lve s, and in the acts we perform. It is
these that fill in the three-dimension al temporal field and make up
its contours and articulations. In Husserlian language, to be con
scious temporally is to " c on stit u te" these phenomena from an ever
c h ang ing now-perspec tive through our protentional- retentional

grasp. It is by virtue of this grasp that the phenomena have for us the
beginnings and endings which make them wholes and set them off
from their surroun dings, as well as the internal articulat ion which

orders and arranges their parts.

We have seen how this temporal grasp, in varying degrees of


com plexity and explic itness, makes us both participants in and
surveyors of the temporal flow, both characters in and tellers of the
stories cons titute d by it.

This is also true of the story whic h encom pases all the partic ular
storie s in whic h the indiv idual is invol ved, that is, the indiv idual 's
life-st ory, bound ed by birth and death . As with all the partic ular
narratives (expe riences and action s) in whic h we consc iously par36. Ibid., p. 374.

ative, and Histo ry


Tim e, Narr

96

.
to tel l i t , to o u rsel ves a nd
.
1 ive
s s tory is
oss1 b J
thi
P
.
.
o
t
y to
ticip ate ,
i. t agai n a n d aga in, rev is in g
II
e
ret
to
e
i
t a s We
thi s cas
go
others; an d m
l
are
a
s
we
way
that
tell
i
ean
ng it w
m
not
es
do
e
.
are
alon g. Th is
'
m omen t now w1' th t h is.
y
no
an
w
t
a
1
W
d
't
ne
h t ha
t
acti. vely con cer
or sma J J . B u t the wh ol e
le
e-sca
larg
.
nce
of
erie
'
l
1
p
fe i.s
.
pro1 ect or ex
.
w h o 1 eness is a n un derl y
its
with
cern
con
i
ng and
nd
always there, a
,
th
d
n
a
you
,
ood
l
l
a
h
d
the
chil
in terven1
con cern. Birt h ,
ng
.
,, .
recurring
1
are
a
1s
ways
)
"now
with
ever
ea
ch
wher
{
of us,
stages up to now
t
to
b1ec
u
s
iscov
ay
ery and rei n.
ilia r, yet Jw
unchangi ng and fam
1 n a d ever-ch ang.
plementi ng this ever-g
terpretat ion. And com
ct of d eath, as certain in its inevitability as
ing retrospect is the prospe
mo me nt of arri val.
it is uncertain i n its manner and
ity has tu rned on
The whole quest io n of authors h i p or au thentic
t h e fact that at no level, and certain ly not at the scale of the li fe story
.

'

"':

itself, is the narrative coherence of events and actions simply a


"given" for us. Rath er i t is a constant task, somet i m es a s truggle, and

when it succeeds it is an achievement. As a struggle it has an

adversary, which i s , described i n the most general way, t em p ora l


disorder, co n fusi on, incoherence, chaos . It i s the chaos a n d dissol u
tion represen ted, paradoxical l y, by the steady running-off of mere
sequence. To experien ce, to act, to l i ve i n t h e most gene ral sense, is

of
t ma.intain and if necessary
to restore the narrati ve co herence
time itself, to preserve
it aga i n s t this i nternal dissolu tio n i n to its
com ponent parts .

e
What is at stake
at the level of events and exp eri en ces is th
tem poral coher
... 8t the
en ce 0f my surro u n d i n
gs the i r "makin g sense
I eve1 of m y
hal
act i on8 an d pro1
c ces s. W
u
s
ects
and
,
their
n
o
i
t
e
l
p
m
co
is at stak e o
e
n the pla n e 0
. s my o wn coheren ce as a s e ll th
f
"I
f
'
1
e
i
u nit y a n d
ntegr ty of m
y pe rs o n a l i d e n t i ty
i
Ma cinty
r
e ma y be
t a u tho
righ t tha t at t h is
el f do es n o
itsel f that
s
the
evel
l
i s , cre
.
tern
.
a te 1 tse I f ex
nih1 lo out of the chaot ic n igh t 0f .
P<> ral io co
h eren ce
y ts a
B u t t h e na
struggle
rr
life-stor
a
v
ati
e coherence of
no neth 1
an
ess , an d
s
na lly l
a
res
p on s i b i lity wh i ch no o n e e l lt
ift en ti
rey fro
f
ia a st
rn the sho u l d e rs o f the one who J i ves th a t Jt n
ruggl e
W i th t w
s ee
o as p ect s
one t0
, f u r thermore as we ha ve a 1 rea d y
1 1. ve o ut
s lJ
or J i ve
Part
up t o a p lan
o r sm
r
a
o
e
tive.
ge
l
,
r
narrativ
or
gen eral
lb
t h e othe
ra
e ;rs
t is con
r to contruct or cho os e t h a t n ar d js
s
tr
a i nd b
als a
ced Wi
Y t h e c h o i c e of the second . But th e s eco i ses
f :
t h co n
s tra i n t s
ut re P
rese nt,
. At i ss u e i s a whole w h i h cornP.r
a nd P
ua'
c
H on o
a st Th e
r facu
I si
C i. ty ), w 1 .
Pas t (wha t the existen tia lis ts ca J 1 0
.:
h 1 e su
.-.
ss 1
bjcct to r
e i n te rp reta t i o n ne vert h eJ e

'

"

CUlar

'

'

The Se lf an d the Cohere


nce of Life
97
fix ed : 1 am provided with certain
som e ex tent
talents and capacities
.
)
1
,
the
hav
e
of
mad
e certain choices and had cert

{o r lack
ain
ch
mak
hi
e
ces
me
the
n
rie
pers
on
e
p

I
am,
for good or ill.
ex
.
Seen in t is hgh t the problem of the unity of self can be seen as
together the roles of narrator,
character, and audience
that of bri nging
spok
b
e
fore.
we
It
may
be thought that modern philosophy

of wh i ch
there
that
is
no "problem" of unity. Hume show
teaches us
ed that the
found
in
be
to
exper
not
ience
;
Kant agreed and concluded that
sel f is
recog
nized
instea
be
d
as a condi tion of the possibility of
it mus t
exp erience. If the unity of consciousness is assured at such a rudi
menta ry level , why should it become an issue, a matter of concern
and even anxiety? After all, experiences and actions must already be

min e if I am to worry how they hang together or make up a coherent


life-story.
It is true that such unity exists but it is no more than a necessary

condition, never a sufficient one, for selfhood in the broad moral


sense of which we have spoken. The question is, what is the arrange
ment of the multiplicity of experiences and actions that belong to
this pregiven self? Mere sequence would be the fragmentation or
dissolution of self; it is one of our ways of representing madness. Our
lives admit of sometimes more, sometimes less coherence; they hang
together reasonably well, but they occasionally tend to fall apart.
Coherence seems to be a need imposed on us whether we seek it or
not. Things need to make sense. We feel the lack of sense when it
goes missing. The unity o f self, not as an underlying identity but as a
life that hangs together, i s not a pregiven condition but an achieve
ment . Some of us succeed , it seems, better than others. None of us
succeed s totally. We keep at it. What we are doing is telling and
retelling, to oursel ves and to others , the story of what we are about
and what we are.

We prop os ed this d i scus sion of temp orali ty as a way of beginning


to answer the ques tion: how are we aware of the past, prior to or
i n dep en dentl y of its beco min g thematic in a disc iplin ed inquiry like
his tory? The answ er that has emerged is that the past figures for us in
a tem por al con figurat ion (or, better, con figurations) that incl ude s
pres ent .. and futu re. To con tinu e the ana logy we have use d before,
s
ti m e s urround s us like spa ce, and like spa ce it is inhabited by sha p
.
and forms . The sha pes of tim e are det erm ine d by our ong01ng experi
d the future an cl
en c es an d act ion s in wh ich we pro jec t or proten
.
s
thi
of
e
tur
fea
one
t;
pas
retain the pas t. Bu t it i s not sim ply the
t
tem poral str uc tur e is tha t it is always a partic ula r pas t, the pas t tha

Tim e, Narra tive, and Histo ry

ss o f th i s part icu l ar even t I arn fo l lo


form s part of the progre
w
ng (a
ness o f a be l oved ) o r of th
the
ill
,
ame
.
a
v
g
is
mo eme nt
. icula,
wh i ch I a m engaged (se rvi n g t h e t ePart
acti on or project in
n nis
' g this boo k bat1 .
h in
ng a c l ass, fi n 1s
d oi ng the shoppi ng, pre pari
)
ese
unr
,
e
arger
p
;
u
i
ma
stor
to
e
l
s or
k
e lat d
story-lines may combine
p t one anoth er, some tim es hi n de
may criss-cross and interru
ri n ' a ey
gf nd
er's
anoth
p
one
to
rogress
t
.
ting
Ele
bu
m en s
somet imes contri
o one
(suppo se I eet a wo man I ha
r
anohe
in
nts
eleme
may be
ve ad.
the
tennis
on
co
chent,
urt)
d
ss
by
acci ent
mired, or 8 busine

or

design.
o
The events I experience have one or another kind of c herence
(depending, say. on whether they are natural or human events); the
actions in which I engage have another sort of coherence. determined
primarily by the means-end relation; m y l i fe-story, as the multi
plicity of these experiences and actions, has yet another kind of
coherence-has, or, as in the other cases as well, should have and
may fail to have.
The point is that in all these cases we are aware of the past
elements of any temporal sequence as part of the tempora l whole in
which they figure. It is true that we may focus with varying degrees of
explicitness on particular elements of the past (or p resen t and future.
for that matter) : reflective stock-taking or deliberation may req
precisel y that I take a pa rt the sequence and exa mi ne its ele men m
1
detail . (Where am I? d i d I a d d the salt and then stir in the eggs? (.an
put it in the oven now ?) A
t such moments we move toward .1
tte ntion 15
thematic attenti on to the past
for its own sa ke. But su ch a
a c i. n as a
sr n
1 part of the practica l narration that consti tutes a n t o
1
tion
ec
whole , and the past is
nn
o
c
still viewed in light of its
present and future in
n
an ongoi ng pro) ect. Before the past ca
partau..,..
d am
.
an ob'teet 0f conc
.
ern in its own right i t i s of interest an
.
to us heca use of .lts
relati on to present and future.

r of
characte
Remi n d mg ou rselves in h
l
t i s way o f the practica
.
_.i.en
.
.,
aris

11
.._
nanauve
e
....- n m ts us to touch
w
i
h
on another issue wh i c
ol
eSS
we mo on to
ve
,consi der history : what o f the truth or truthful/I t lb
our awarenes s f
o t he past? \Ve
uch a boU tai>!
h ave spoken so m
coherence of sto
r to
pg cer
8
ry, parti cularly of a life story. it msY a p
Ptecede .
un
o
t
rn" )iftt!
OV&r rut h , or to s u ggest a sus p iciouss
here001t
of truth " i n these met1ers In order t o rnake ntt }
h eory
sto""'
ie111ten":d
,
.T co eren t
h
o
w
t
n
ra t her t haD ething d1
ange.
c
rew
iust
Y
'
rite ( h
t h pasn y,
cannot easi ly convi nce o W'S8lves t hat solll
t ff

:
beCX>

ot

did not uap


pen

we

w h en we know or sincere ly beh. e\l'O the CO"

The Self and the Coherence of Llfe

99

of the unconscious are to be aa:epted . we often try to


certa in theories
but the truth constrains us nonetheless. taking its toll
de ny the past
.in in direct ways. In some cases the constraints are strictly practical:

just as I cannot pretend to have added salt and expect the souffle to
turn out well, so I cannot pretend to a talent or capacity I never had
and then expect to put it to use. Many of our plans go awry (and

stories have to be rewritten) because we make mistakes about the


past , abo ut what happened and what we have done. The past does
constrain us; it does have a fixedness that allows reinterpretation

0nJy up to certa in lim its.


, The fact remains, however, that it does not confront us, at least in
our everyday, 04pre-scientific" experience, as someth ing isolated and
stan ding on its own. Fixed as it may be, its role is to figure in a larger
arran gement whose future aspect is not fixed but projected or pro
tended. This means that the whole can very well change, and the

parts change not i n themselves but in their relation to the other parts

of the whol e they make u p.

IV
Temporality and
Historicity

and lives
dlvidu als .
does
it mean, in this conte
exactly
xt t0 m?v e
But what
beyo nd the
social?
Obviously we canno
the
to
. dividual
't entirely
.
in
I eave the
' .
ua l behmd, smce society ls comp osed of.
ind1v1d
uals Furth
1n divid
.
' ma be thought th at our way of propos in g the to
er,
ic commits
Y
1t
us to
and
the
individual.
indiv
idua
the
l's
ex
penence and
re taining

actio n
.
0 central pos1t1 on . It w111 b e recalled that we exp 1 aine
,
d our inquiry
I a
1
s con cep t
mg
usser
'
s
k'
H
1
vo
by,.in
of the lifewor Id

init ially
and then
nh.
c1e
1ogy from tt.
ana
fic

que
an
stioning a nd th ..
g
win
dra
eonzmg
1
.
H usser argue d, ta ke place within a human con
abo ut nature , .
text in
'bl e to us prior to and indepen
access
1s
re
natu
which
dentlY 0f our

1 . I s 1't not th e case, we asked. that independ


scient1'fi c ptct ure of 't
ent1y
.
.
h e h'1stor1cal p as t is accessible to us in a
ry,
t
qu1
1
1
rica
histo
of

_
similarly presc1 entific and pre-thematic way? And can we not bett r
e
understand history as a disciplined inquiry, and the historical past
0f.1n

1. The Problem

The time has come to move our investiga tion in 8 di .


n
which will contribute more directly to . the philosophical rectdr
un oer.
.
began by proposing that the historical p
standing of history. We

ast
d epen d ent 1 y f

o its thematization in
to and m
prior
s
has a certain statu
historical inquiry. Our proposal was that i t has this status by "figur.
ing" in the general structure of human temporality along with the
present and the future, and that this structure is a narrative structure.

We explored this structure at the level of ordinary exper ience and


action, attempting to display its essential features and in particular

to demonstrate its narrative character. W e have limited ourselves so


far to the temporal unfolding of experience as lived by the individ
ual, and action as performed by the individual. Thus if we have

succeeded in shedding light on the pre-thematic past, it is only the


individual's past that we have considered; if the past has been shown
to figure in an overall temporal structure, this is a structur e belonging

to the individual's experience, action, and life.

But the historical past Is not limited to the individual's past, and
lies
may even be thought of as defined, at least in part, as what
ical
beyond the scope of the individual's memory. Furthermore, histor
al
accounts are arguably not primarily o r directly about i ndlvid
l
nca
'
t

expenences,
actions, and lives, but only incide ntally. The hJS 0 e
If th
past, we could say, is the social not the individual. pas t.
r
fu
l
i
u
.
foregoing account of time and na ative is going to prove fr
1
ten
our understanding of history, we shall have to find a way of ex

100

101

vldual to the larger


the ndi

soc ial o
e o nd
ntext.
We mu
i.t b
ere JS a pre-thematic social past w h
t ask
th
e
r
ch
e
t
, by an
h
w
vidual,
is
alogy o
a
f
u
indi
n
cti
e
on
th
of
of
a
our
l
t
arg
n
er SOCIa 1
accou
ternpora
one th'is, we shall ha ve to d
d
g
vin
l't
emo n strate
d ha
.
I t
the nar 1 y.
f.O '
rative
of th 'is soc1a empora 1ity. We sh a ll t t
r
e
ct
a
18
ch.ar
ry 0 show, in fac t I
chapters,
uing
that
ens
th
ere
e
' n
a narrati
and th
ve social
thS
. tim

e same reI ahon


to socia l exp .
bear s. th
.
h
erie
.
nce and SOC
1
.
whC

1al actio e
1dua tempora1 1ty to the exper'ien
n
s ind1v
ces,
e
o
act
d
io
as
ns,

Temporolity and Hi
s! or1.c1.1 y

! :;

as p ortrayed by such Inquiry, if we interrogate the pre-theoretical

histor ical world and our pre theor etical manner of living and acting

in that world?

But this phenomenological ques tion , it can be argued, is implicitly


still a question about the individual. If the historical past is pre

thema tically "accessible," it is to the individual that it is thus ac


cessible. It is in his or her exper i enc e and action that this past
figur es as background in the context of a three-dimensional tern
poralit y. The question can then b e restated as: what pre-thematic
s ign ificance does the specifically histori cal past have, what role does

"

"

it play, in the life of the individual?

hing the
Seen in these terms, the first step must be that of distinguis
, eve
past
specifically histo rical past from the specifically individu al
vt
Pro
.
al
d'ividu
the m
thou g h both
are to be considered in relation to
.
ch
i
wh
e of
sio nally we can
do ing this. som
envisage different ways of
only
the past
have already been
have discussed
mentioned. So far we
--

1. See Introductio
n. above.

--

r1111c.

tOl

Nurrolive, ond History

. l tho ox porionco of the individua l . vv


1\Il
"'h u t
)'a
1 $ wit
.
11
I ies
as
far
memory inch1< lcs no t only w '''
In..o
i
. dlvl d uol "
t

c <><. 'c
11 1
o
th
po
not
do
ld
i
s
s
cou
llrtod
b
ly bo l'tl m .
thus
outsi
. d wh ich
e n1 b 0
on
his b ''.rth.
s d'1roct oxpcrionce . 1
tod.
!u
outside
es
i
before
1
l
n
Y
mp
anot
o wI111t s1
her
1
1v
uu
l
s
d'
'd
l
ln
a
con
tho
ut
be
ever,
b
wHncss
a 1 , .. how
to t\
"hi storlc
(
o
nd
e
events
.
on
.
l
d
ns
or1ca
of
cou rse
se
ombor hist
the 1
o n ll y rtm
s
1d
por
1.
in them by perform
thus
10 ac tively involved
ing o
ti
c ons
v i du11l can 8 5? '1 In t his secon d s onso. historical action a
s nd 0"
ton co
dctinied his
n ifica nce : a nd much that lios b 0nts
sig
social
o
oyon
e of gon
d
a
. ro thos
n1e mory as well as much withi n that scop
s
one
f
0
.
o f
.
.
tho sco Po
' 0
. 1
storical m tl11s sonso. If the his to ric
.
a l Past
tain Y not hi
coursc'. 1s cer
Is
1
ersona
post,
b
ut tho soc
1 no t nrnre l y tho non-p
.
iallY sig.
Y
dmg
accor
l t o th o md'1v 1d
of rol o1mg 't
u al is
. . t , th en our task

rnol'll
.
nificant pas
1 or tl1e i nd i vid
ls o more compI icated . r.
. d',
a
if
tcd
ica
ua l 's ru1a.
.
clearly Ill
e
date d before tur
in general should bc I uc1
n ing lo
.
lion to soc1. e ty
an element of that relation. Soci a l exi st ence a
as
past
s
ty
socie
nd
.
.
must be exammod ma general way before tho so cial PaS
I
SOCl.81 t'me
t
rge and be un d erstood m ats p ': pe pla ce.
in p articular can eme.
.
be addressed m a way whach as cons istent
Can all the se questi ons
the investigations com
pleted
with. but also appropria tel y enlarges.

so far?

1Wo of th e authors on whom we have drawn in our discussion of


tcmporal ity. Hu ss er l and He idegger. have addressed some of these

questions from th e perspective of their own concerns. At roughl y the


same time, the late 1920s and early 1930s, the term Geschicht lich
keit, his t oricity, began t o fi gure importantly in their work. It is clear

that both were seeking something like a pre-thematic role for h i story

which would both bear on their central philosophical preoccupa

lions an d provide for a p hi losophical understanding of hist ory as a

discip li ne. Since we are at least partially indebted to them for our
view of temporality, it will be useful for us to e xa mine briefly and
evaluate critically th ei r excursions into the domain of history. We
shall see that it is po ssible to learn a great deal, both p o s i tive and

negative, from th e ir approaches to the


topic
clusions.

a nd

from their con

1'omporollty and I llstorlclty

10

3
) o 1'doggc'r ,s 0e Ing ond Ti
usod. -i
me, In which
ot conf
tho
h
co
w
n.
1e
y figures prominently, was publishod 1n
'011
lO ri'clt
1927 6 n
f h ls
d.
t
103
aft
er
4,
wh
i
l
riod
e
w r i ti ng The
e
coPl o
10 tho p
Crisis o
wss 011IY0 cos . . . , that Husserl mode hi sto ric it y 8 ce
ntra l co Euro.
ci 11
ncorn In

f1 S
hod certa inly rood Heid
l
ssor
u
H
11re o
work
(!uo
ooc r s success
.
n
w
ful
blS o d w hi le ho hod many cnt lclsms of it, he may I b' .
n t is ins
tan
ce
.
b<JOk on
fl uonco
. i s pupl 1 . A more complicate
d by h
d but prob ably
en tn
e
b
b11ve
,,10 picturo of tho 1 inos of I n fl uen e
c here would po1
ecc u r 0
nt to
more
oy. even thou gh t his pilosophor had
th
l
i
O
of
died
lo
o
1
r
19
n
.
Y
12.
ke
egger s h omnge to Di lth
tho
ndy notod I'l o id . .
ey at th.e hr
lrc
a

.
VO
'"'ISin
ho

on } 1istoric1ty, a c hapter he says is


is cha p ter
dedicated l
l
r
1
nin8
1n the a pprop riation (Aneignung) of Dllthey's wo r ...
L . 2 It 1
r 8
s
rurthno
at 1927 was also the year which saw the pub c
th
t
of
li
atio
an
n
s\gni ic
complete works, from which
h
seven of Dilt ey 's
we
o
have
.
in
u
vol
. s the author's late manusc
ensively, an d wl1ich con l a. m
ripts
quot ed ext
hichtl
ichen
Well. "3 Hus serl was acquain
gesc
de r
"'Aufbau
ted
00 t l10
ume at least through the work of his assistant Ludwig
'th this vol
Georg M is ch. who published significant studies of
ndgrebo . end of
phcnomonolgical erspcctiv e in th ese years. Hu.s
Dilth ey from a
ys respected Dilthey, m spite of earlier criticisms. and
serl had alwa
with the years. It may well have been the
his respe ct seemed to grow
Heidegger,
who pushed Husser l 's thou ght s In
than
rather
latter then .
.

t he direction of history.
It is also possible to argue, as I have done elsewhere. that Husserl

arrives at a co n ce rn for historicity by follo w ing out the implications


of his own earlier investigations, and would have been forced to take

history seriously quite independently of any outside ln fluence. 5

But it is not our task here to sort out and answer these questions of

influ e nce . We sock simply to understand what the se two thinkers

have to say about historicity and how it relates to their respective

theories of temporality. The first thing to note is that the two ap

proaches diff er as their authors' respective p henomenol ogies differ. a


difference we h ve already encountered. Husserl, w11 noted . makes
a
"consciousness" the f o cus of his investigation and takes the rela
-

2. Husserl and Heidegger on Gesch


ichtlichkeit
If we turn our
attention to Husserl first it is for s y stematic rather
than chronolo
in fact
gical reaso n s. The chro
nolo gic al pic ture is

n
2 Heidegger, Being and Time. p. 377 (reference Is to the Gorman poginalio i
3 See Dihhey, Ge
sammelte Schriften, vol. VII. pp. 277-78.
h e .. n Joh
b4. L. Landgrebe, "Wilhelm Diltheys Theorie der Gelsteswlssensc a
Isch.
(1928
fil Philos ophie un d phelnomenologisch e Forschung 9
s phiJosophie nd Phi!nomcnologie. lionn. 9
1 30:
1 n Northwcstt>,rn
u
S
U : ee my Phenomenology and the Problem of History (Evans 0
n1verily p
ress, 1974), espec ia lly chapter II.

104

Time. Narrative, and History

phe nom enon of perception as his paradigm


.
Hcide
live I y passIve
..
&&er
menology with ou active deali ngs"
pheno
his
(Beso
begins
and prefers to speak simply of Da sein (hu
'
rn an
WI th the world
II)&)
usness.
cio
cons
than
rather
.
.
1th perception i s a manife st
Huss erl's preoccupation
ati on
of
focus of modern philosop
1 hi1
cal
log
1
epistemo
the
to
ties
1
hy.a
c ose
.
OCUs
.
1 e it ts true that Hus
repu diates. o Wh'I
Heidegger expli citly
serl feJ.ect
.
s
account of perception, an d portra ys the lat
8 pu rely passive
ter as an
.
.
sness, perception rema ins 8 "
intentional activity of consciou
pass1.ve
synthesis," relatively speaking . Husserl ts far from des cribi ng
all
consciousness in such passive terms, but for him the p aradigm of
active consciousness is the activity of scientific cognitio n, that ls, the
pro je ct of arriving at grounded and coherently inter c on nec ted judg.

benJ

ments about what is. Consciousness is portrayed by Husserl as ani.


mated by concern for this sort of theoretical unde rstanding. and as
o rie n ted teleologically toward its achievement. If such a
sc lousn ess is active rather than passive, it is

con.
neverthe l ess con

templative rather than practical: It seeks to know rather than


intervene in or change its world.

It is consciousness conceived in these terms whose historicity

Husserl gradually discovered in the course of his later years. He had

long recognized that his phenomenology must deal with the problem
of intersubj ec tivity, and he finally arrived at a published formul ation
of this problem in the Cartesian Meditations (1929). He recognized

there that the individual ego stands in an essential relation to other


such egos-ess ential. that is, in the sense that the commun ity of suc h
egos plays a constitutive role in the very appearance and givenness of
the world. This communal interrelation finds its concrete manifesta
lion in pa rticula r cultures and soci
eties.7
During this same period Husserl develope d his "genetic" pbe
.
nomenology. m which
Jy as tem
consciousness is portrayed not on
. of
uis
poral but also as cumulati e n
v a d developmental in its acq tltO at
te
8 world and
on
of its knowledge of the world It is in this c
xt o
e c
''th
Husserl writes the
ier, that
earl
senter:e
quoted
that
we
t "'
h
.
.
.
hie e.
constitutes itself for
itsel! ' !so to spea k' in the unity of a G esc
penod
These themes were not
tl 1 the
drawn togeth er, however. un

6. Heidegge
r, pp. 59-{;2
7. Husserl,

cartes1on

Meditations, pp. 132-33.


8. tbid "p.
75 See above, chapt
er Ill. p. 74.

TemporaJity and Historicity

105
. Prior to this, Husserl seemed
t0 beJ'eve
. e Crisis. ..
of Th
tha t th e
purs uit of theo
. 'dual con scio usness, 1n its
ret1ca 1 und e
ind1v1
rs tand
uld simply transcend its con crete social sit uatt.
on and
1. n g. co
go
to the trut h. What he fi nally saw in the 1930s w
.
as that the
.
d1rectly
.
ry urs uit of theoretical truth ts conditioned
. .
and d e tem1
P
ve
1ned by
,
. .
.
recog
mhon
f
o
h'
s
t
serl
1s
ts manifested in
Hus
h'1s famous
h.1s tory.
in The Cns1s and related texts of the natural .
sciences, of
tre at me nt
.
(geom etry m pa rticular ), and finally of
philosophy 'tmathematics
saw that even if it is the nature of conscio
self. Hu sserl
usness o
pursuit of truth, the individual always
inherits this
enga ge in the
pursuit as an ongoing activity of the society in which he or she takes
it up. The incipient scientist also builds on the results already ob

tained by others . Thus a cognitive endeavor such as science, while it


is pursue d by individuals, owes its undertaking in each case, as well
as its capacity to progress, to the social context in which it exists.

This is no less true of philosophy than of the other disciplines. e

While the cognitive life of the ind ividual owes its birth to the

social context , and depends on the same context for its success, there

is a negative side to this dependence. For the concepts and methods

taken over from the tradition can equally function as prejudices


which skew the individual's perspec tive on his subject matter, lead

ing him to grasp it and understand it in a one-sided way and over


look other aspects which make up the phenomenon in its fullness.
This can happen in any field, where theoreti cal progress often re
quires not building on but criticizing and rejecting what is handed
down . This is what has happened in philosophy, which has ta ken
.
over from mod ern science its con cepti on of the world and then failed
to und er sta nd
explain it ausal ly
subjectivity because it has tried to
recognizes th. e
as an elem ent
within that world. Even Kant. wh 0
in
the latter purely
constitutive
role of subjectivity, still conceives of
8
rel ah on to
e the need f or
a scientifically construed wor Id He nc
.
or 10
. . h as 't
1 s home pn
re urn to the
life-world in which subjectivity
cog
r
e ry the
sci ence
anci in which the activity of scien ce, and
def
its pomt 0
n1r lVe acti
ha s
vity including ultim ately philosophy
s
lve
d th mse
P ure .10
,p
Vvnile the sciences do not need t com
phil sophy's
p l os
o phkally in order to succeed at their task.

: :

of

-gr_ee

Husserl, The
Crisis
Vl:Ollletr y "
.
10. Ibid .
., PP. 103-189
.

esp

'in
Qng
78) on the.
.ix 51x (PP. 353ecially append

Time. Narrative, and History

106

them and this means tracing the


task to understand
mb k
c to their
hy m ust likewise comprehend
philosp
But
.
origins
itsel a
nd rn
.
lls t
l s own ongms m th
circle b ack upon 't
e lif e-w
.
accor dingly
orld .
developments
engender con
It turns out that these
si'd erable
. losoph1cal
.
d'ffi
p
h
whole
1
program, but
Husserl's
culty for
this need 1
not
11 Of interest to us for now is
solely the c
detain us here.
onc ept
.
.
.
ol
.
historicity itself. What we have seen 1s that this concept ari
ses for
.
.
.
Husserl as a feature o f the md 1v1'd ua l conscio usness en gaged
.
ma
cognitive project. Sue h a consc10usness d oes not stand passively
before a pregiven world and then undertake on its own a the o retical
cognition of that world. For any given individual. the enterprise
.

of

cognition exists as a project before he or she takes it up.


Would not the first such individual be an exception? If Husser l
does think a "first" such individual conceivable, his fleeting refer

ence, for example, to "some undiscoverable Thales of geometr y."12


suggests he is at a loss how to treat such a figure. Though he mentions

the "origin" of geometry, what he really describes is the situ atio n in

which geometry already exists, as a precondition for the individual's

engaging in it.

The engagement of the individual in the project thus pres up poses


his prior situation in the community and the existence of a tradition
of inquiry in that community. In taking up the traditional project the
individual takes over its questions. goals, concepts, and meth
W hile the ideal pursuit of a discipline would simpl y bu ild on
!ashe
.

.m cumu1 ative
work of predecessors and continue
and additive .
_.i
.
c
1
cr11 1 zi:u
.
ion, m fact mistakes are made and past work need s to be
r
.
g new. co
and undone. This
regression involves not only provid1n
ol
. the d
rected answers to old questions but. just as often, attacking
questions and posing new ones in their place.
dition of a
.
In sum, the individual's engagement in the ong oing .
n
.
d al co
11 Y constituted endeavor is essential to w hat 10diVI U
soc1a
rf
.
eCt5 eve
sciousness is about. and !ts relation to that trad'itt on aff
a st
e
1
t
.
.
also. a
thmg it
d oes: ce rta i n ly its active pursui t of truth b ut
r d.
possibly, even its more passive perception of the wo J
br i eflY 10
to re fer roblelll rJ
We have already ha d
occasion in chapter III.
to th
H eidegger 's cha pte r on historicit and its relation
fi refelil11ce
spec i
e
r
o
authenticity.t3 We must examine it now with m

nd
d'
av a
.11 These ifficulties
are explored in my PhenomenoIo...,
H1story.
12. Husserl.
The Crisis P
36 9
13. Chapter Ill. pp.

94_'.95' abo.

tne

prob

lelfl 4

Temporality and Histo


ricity
107
beyond
oves
individ
u
m
al
it
to social expe
how
. ce an
rten
d social
mporality.
ln describing authentic existe. nce Heidegger has stress
ed the f ture
spect o f death. As 1f to com pens
ate for th'is em
and the pro
ph asis on

s es my, he mtro
d uces h is chap ter
the indiv1'd ual'. d t'
0n h'1stor..
ic1ty by
turning to t he m d'1v1'dua l's b'irth and origins. It is he re that h
e takes
,
.
up D ilth ey s expression Zusammenhang des Lebens and .
invokes
.
. ,
aga in the wh olness.. of D asem s b emg, speaking now of a
"reach
encompassing birth and death. Dasein is this reach, at least if it
is
authentic: it is the temporal self-integration of itself. Heidegger
calls
this its Geschehen, the term which lies behind Geschichte and
Geschichtlichkeit.14

..

Thus we see the context in which Heidegger's tum t o history


occurs. If Husserl's focus is the individual consciousness pu rs uing
theoretical understanding, Heidegger' s is the ind ivid ua l Dasein pur

s u in g its pretheoretical self un der stand i ng in the struggle for a uthen

tic or temporally integrated existence. Dasein is historical because it


.
is temporal in this sense, not temporal b ec aus e it is "in history " he
-

s a ys 1 5 That is, its connection to the social past arises as afunction of


the tempora l ity of its own existence .
How is this so? That Dasein is soc i a l. in the sense that Mitsein
.

(being with others) is constitutive of its being, has already been


affirmed by Heidegger in an earlier section.16 Social existence is part
of Dasein s "thrownness," its factual embeddedn ess 10 a part'icuJar
been treated
si'tuah on not of its choosing. While soc1a
. 1 ex1st ence had
.
.
. exi.stence (that is ' the average
primarily as the medium of ina ut hentic
.
and i mp ers
eryone and no oneJ
onal dos Man, the interchangeabl e ev
ws
here it is seen
existenc e. MY feII0
as offe ri ng models of aut hent'ic
we
.
As
over
take
a nd predec
esors constitute a heritage wh'ic h I can
n to the
sa w in
d'ivi'd u al's c o nnect1'o
the previous chapter, the in
uthen
.
bea
can a1 so
he ri'tage
may be automatic and unthi.nk' g but it
as a blind.
.
enticall y. not
a n d resob e 17
th
.
au
fate
d
m
u
my
t . I can live o t
freely an
pred ete
existence
l!
e
rmined course of life but as a mode 0f
of rep
t he f0rm
con sci
ously chosen. Authentic existence can take
st pospa
of
.
n
.' tio
t
o
c
p
l
ap
e
e
i
_(Wi deth olu ng ) which is the xp i
r P 1 the m. an d be
te
sl1b 1ht ies
ros. e m
.te In other words I can hav e he
rn.
e
h
oyal t o
t
se
their memory-but it is I who c h00

'

he

h.a

-14 lt 'd
nei e
ts. I bid gger. p 375
p
16. Ib id " . 376.
17. b d.. Pp. 117-25.
I i .
18. lb'ld . p. 384.
p . 385.

..

Ti me, Narrati ve, and Histo ry

108

this relate to history as such? H eide


How does all
.
.
. .
.
gger clearly
conception o f h1stonc1ty h as implication
th.mks that his
s for hi
.
st
These derive p n. m an 1Y f rom the fact that b
.
pline
disci
a
as
oth
lect
historic al research are to be con ceiv ed in
an d Ob'i ect of
the terms r
.
.
. .
0
and
seekmg
But
acqu
mng knowle d
the analysis of Dasem.
&eofth
e
d bY no means the only
past is only one way. an
way , of bei
historical in Heidegge r's sense . If we try to summari ze what
Het'dng
eg.
.
t
h
ger actually means by h1ston c1' y, w at is perhaps har dest to s .
just how it constitute s a link between the indivi dual and the s i
past. If knowledg e is not the original link to the past, what is?
Much of what Heidegger says in his cha pter on historici ty can hE
looked at simply as a reformulation of his general theory of tern.
porality as the sense of Dasein's being. When he speaks of Geschehen
{"happening") as lying at the root of historicity, he defines this in

sub?ry

terms of the underlying integration that links past, present and


future for the individual . It is this underlying integration, rather than
,

an external connection linking separate moments spread out over

time, which establishes the Zusammenhang des Le bens and con


stitutes an authentic existence. Nor is this "resolutene ss a mo

mentary "resolution." It is lived rather as a thoroughgoing const ancy


(Stiindigkeit) in the sense of a loyalty to one's own self.19 It is thi s,
rather than the continuity of a substance persisting through time.
"

which makes up the true unity of the self Only the fragmen tation of
.
inauthentic existence cuts off the dimensions of time from each
other, splinters the temporal into a sequence of moments an d cal
forth an act of gathering together or restoration (Zusammen ho lenf
we
Only in inauthentic existence are we cut off from the past so th at
have to reestablish our links with it.

and fu7iisof

But all this seems only to concern the past . pres ent.
one's own life-the stretch between one's own birth and dea
l
of
true that Heidegg er dra ws , as we have seen, on his earl i er thoe
he
f
'
odel s or
1 sem, suggesting thst 1he
M.t
ives of others prov1de
n
rnensio
.
factual content of ou; c- .;f.lenhc
ci al di
existence. Thus the so
e
d Heid s
Of D sem appears as,,
1 'ty an
1:1e importa nt to its aut hent'c1

la tion be'
ger introduces into
hi:> discussion a concep tion of the re lt and
.
tween the self
y, Joya Y hU 5
and otc,e:ts which is one of sohdant
er t
.
emulat ion. To the
H i de
integration of past with pres ent
histor
adds the integr
ssion
ation of self with others in his discu

19 . Ibid., pp. 390- 1


9 .
20. Ibid., p
. 390.

Temp orality and Histor


icity

109
Thus the charge that Heidegger never gets heyon
d the isol r
ic1'ty.
a ton
individual be fore h'is own death is incorrect
Da . d H
of th e
v
has
oy
doubt
no
is
i
as
'
that
Heidegger is here
w 21 There
compensating
sh o n .
.
.
for
k the socia 1 with the inauth en
ncy to 1m
tic.
hi s tende
extent does he balance his empha
But to what
sis on the future
b
of the past? If others are important wh
_Y
displaying the role
Y
spec16.
T he k'md o f tempora l integ
ration that H e1'd egg
call y past ot hers.1
er
.
envisions for t he m d'1v1'dua 1 se:ms not to extend in any necessary
way beyond the bounds of the mdividual's life. U others are impor
tant, why will contemporaries not suffice?

The only hints toward an answer to this que stio n arepro ided
v
when Heidegge r begins his chapter by linking birth to death and
when he refers briefly to the concept of "generatio ns."22 To be born is
to have parents, and to belong to a "generation" is to stand in re lation
to previous (and subsequent) generations. Though he does not say it,
Heidegger apparently conceives the paradigm cases of those models
for our "repetition" to be our parents . Heidegger considers essential
here not the biological sense of the sequence of generations, but the

fact that traditions, styles of life, ideals, and values are not just

handed over to us by others but are first of all handed down by our

elders when we are young. Heidegger leaves imp licit the idea that
soc i al existence is generational, that a family persists through time in
a way that differs not only from the persistence of a thing but also
from the tempora l integrity of an individual. It might be tho ght t at
.
Heidegger has touched on only half the problem, since the mdivi
from them 1
u a l, whil e linked
to his elders, must also free himself
ds adut
s ometim es
violent and rebellious ways. But Heidegger
relation
ing
br iefly, in
eat
p
e
"r
somewhat more g ent eel terms, that the
even a
and
to the pa
t
i
st may involve a rejoinder (erwidem) to
d isavowal (Wideruf)
of it 23
e h pare n t
en
ce
it seems clear t at Heidegger has somethin g l ik 1
H
ch1'Id rel
r re 1at1onsh i p
ation in mind. It is true that the elder-younge
bellion'
Whi ch can crn
lation and re
cially involve the diale ct ic 0f emu
, in
m
For exa ple
can e
b repl'teated in other contexts th an the fami ly.
c
om
mi
the co
c
German c de
ntext which
Heidegger knew well, the
is 1 s call e d the
lllU nity,
thes
the professor who supervise s a doctoral

-2
o .

1
. avid Couze ns
Tirn" 1?

lJnive

.
.
Hoy, "History. Historicity
Heidegger and
Philosoph y. ed.
.

Modern

rHs1tydPress, 1978), pp. 339-40.


22
e1 e
23. lb'd gger, pp. 384-85.
I "p. 3 86.

Historiograp

hy 1n BeinS and
a

dchael Murray (New Haven: Y le

Time, Narrative, and History

110

eminent figures have tended to esta


Doktorvoter and
bli sh dY
nasu.c
ts, for whom they beco m
e
emp1res of their studen
ve
e ated
.
.
and
figures. But ther e are significant inst anc es
of Yo
Protective
.
u1

h1
u1
well, as exemp I.1fi ed precise l y m the re atio
re belli on as
shi
P be.
Academic colleagues of
tween Husserl and Heidegger.
coUrse,
'
. ,
ate
d
cognitive
en
eavor,
so we find o rse
engaged in a common
v h
in the realm of the historicity described by Husser l. H eid e s
Y
contrast, seems to be saying that the relationship of older to
.
nger
.
.
I
parhcu
ar
pro1ect
m ord er to ex ist n
generations needs no
o project
except living itself, which is the only purpose, it could be argu ed.of
the family. Heidegger's treatment suggests that like Freud he believes

u l

e:

yor.

the family relationship to be primary and that later. quasigenera

tional relationships in specific contexts are replicas an d reenact

ments of the primal family drama.

3. Historicity and Narrative


must not hide from us the deep similarities. It is time now to empha

size these in order to arrive if we can at a unified notion of historicity.


We shall see that there is such a unified notion and that it can re
rJ
articulated in terms of the narrative character of human time .

F or all the differences we have discovered between the theonesl.


di id a 18
Husserl and Heidegger. at bottom both represent the 10
terms of understanding. indeed. a quest or struggle fo r un de tan&
a1'11 i$
d l ir
ing. One can also speak of a quest for truth. If Hus serI's para
, he i
ndit.he search for theoretical understanding . and H eidegg er s t

g
in
.

vidual's pre-theoretical understanding of his or her o wn


ged15 enga
. di' vi'dual
repr esent ongoing endeavors in which the in
esl'
f 0r
A nd for both, such an endeavor is obviously cons tltuu. ve o. i\dUJ'
.1
d
tiaJ to what the individua is: individual consc iousness. tn
l
Dasein.
wnt
(b
. g in
""
ongoin
l. of an
'o spea
"1
ende\:Jr is to speak of a process
ls
de a
and we have alreadv st-en
n ers
how each of these t hi k stan ct
.
an 1n
. .
human temporahty
1is
. The cognitive quest wo uld be
ousb 1.\f
th
e.
rn
Husserl of the protentiveof f1
retentive consciousn ess
rt of
properl
t
s
a
ar acteri d as an activity rather than
y
IJleaOS !lit
1
experience
Husserl uses in his discussion of tim e.
ized t'1!1S
.
as we have see
or sa
111"'
n, its temporal unfoldi. ng wou Id be
n
pa ifl\1> . ...&
md .ivi dual
t
b
as a means-end structure and a tempora I s
t
l'D
o
retai ned h...
.. : mg
nn
-o c:.pond

and a projected end. co ..

v u

pass

ze

.,.,

that is. its


finding itself in a particul ar situation. This projective structure.
l . is actually the
whic h accomplishes projects and or ganizes the wor d

se l f p jection of Dasein onto time which consti tutes its understand


ing of its own being. Heidegger is consistent in his emphasis on the
active Oasein's activity is ultimately its struct uri ng of itself and this.
rather than any passive contemplation , is its way of understanding

- ro
:

its own being.

These and other differences between the two notions of histor i dly

ch

Temporolity and Histo


ricity
.
ltl
.
th
e
project
mg
k
erta
and his acco
al's und
mpli' s hing hls
v1'd u
.
goa I or
ally t he pro1ect wou ld be articul
goals . Intern
ated 1nto step
.
s and
erlocking su bord'mate ea ns end struct
ures an d the
st a ges int
.
.
.
like.
.
nderstand mg 1s likewise laid
,
.
Das ein s self-u .
out int.empora1
terms
to He1 degger, as we have seen. The proiecti
acco rding .
.
ve character
.
.
partlu 1 ar pro1ects (including the
kind of project
mani fested m
Husouth es a future which in turn organiz
ged)
isa
env
rl
se

es the present
world in to interl ocking complexes of s gn ifi cance all accomplished
'
on t h e back ground of Dasein s thrown ness or facticity,

to

We have seen how this projective-retrospective st ctu is a nar


rative structure insofar as it involves the reflective and deliberative
stock-taking we have associated with the term Besinnung. This is
easiest to see at work in a cognitive e nd e a or of the sort that serves as
Husserl's paradigm. Even though not every cognHive project invol es
the peculiar step-wise progression we find in a deductive s ystem. we
can see how frequent in any such project is t he need to assure oneself
of w at has been accomplished and w h at yet needs to be done. To
.
.
story to onese If
carry o t such a complex project
requires te11i ng its
and the action is intertwined with the te li g.
ed at the
. .
1s s1tuat
He1degger 's conception of self-underst an d'ng
1
.
and I't
chapt er .
I.eveI of the
life-storv
. ,, as discussed m . the last
m for
,.,.
co
involves,
.
in its own way, the prospective-retro
S .-:ial sort
e w o le . \\oe have seen how thi can be conce1ve d as a rhe course

and
hipJ
of relatlo
nsl:ip between authorship (or narrators
of l ife.
this. pie
.1sto ricity add to
What, now, do
h
f
0
ns
s
i
o
the two discus .
to an uiter
ture1 F'
Ind'avi'dual
the
. i..
....
..
..,.
tVV'
kers
irst
, as we saw both thin

. nr p-"UPPo5t u
subjec
- --
'""'
tonci.,
h.
15
f
.
dU4'
hve
s
0
context. Both disc uss on
.
the
indi
VJ

5
.
the
ntial to
tias
be. re I a on with others is somehow esse
Jation. but one -'
.
re
a.I ing There are
u of this
ractd ur
doubtless many aspec
th-e cha
rra

of
e
teady turn
h
t
.
in ed up an our d1scuss1on
lvd an
bu n
tive in
ao d
rna ternporality. This is the idea
Pl ay of
three points of view. not only those
thiS wt pc>lll
te l ler
but also
\'e seen
that of audience. We h

ru re

l n

too

th h

..
that character
that
a

---

Time. Na rrative, and Hi s t ory

112

.
nt even in the individual's organi zatio n of h'
view 'is prese
is or her
.
.
hfe. But we saw that this audie
nce's .
experience. action. and .

1
Point
. vo 1ves, 1s
a ways someh
latlon l't m
ow
v1ew, and the interre
quasi.

intersubiective and reflects or corresponds to the gen u inel u inte


rsul>.
,
Th.is means that at the le
.
jective milieu of story-telling.
vel of eve d
experience and action, the narrative which organizes the temry
ay
flow often addresses itself to others and often seems to requi

:i:

address.

Thus concretely. when we recount to others what we are living


through and what we are doing, such recounting, rather than the

adventitious communication of an already prepared and clearly for.


mulated message, is actually constitutive of the content of what is
said, and through it constitutive of the temporal organization itself.

Most people have had the experience that they do not quite know
what they mean or intend until they try to com municate it to others.

Tem po rali ty and His t orici ty

113

ing his or her work and. starting over. In either case


.
the work
by undo

Iy ex1stmg alongside my
rath er than s1mp
rs
.
ow n beeom .
e
o
th
.
of
.
es its
an d pnor con d.1hon.
backgroun d
s to suggest something similar
when 1t comes
Hei degger seem
.
to
authentic
mode of existence. Others
an
at
ng
rl
.
vi
can serve as
ar
.
.
already constitute an ac
use their hves
complishment
models beca
.
while my own .is sh.11 m question. To be sure, everyone 's life, at
whatever age. is constan tly "in question" in Hei degger's sense, and it
may be one of the illusio ns of youth that the lives of the old are
accomplished. just as it may be an illusion on the negative side that
they are set in their ways. But the illusion, if it is that, may neverthe
less be important in these cases. The point is not that others are
"older" as such but that their life (or work) represents a background

for living (or work) that I have yet to do.

Thus the social world is not composed simply, as A. Schutz seems

The content is all the more affected, of course, when the speaker si

to suggest in his Phenomenology of the Social World, of my "contem

my action or experience to others can organize or reorgani ze it for


me; telling the story of my life can serve to make a sense of it I ba\oe

with a rank of "predecessors" who lived before me.24 Rather, those


with whom I have direct contact in life and work are differentiated in

met by rejoinders, questions, and criticisms Thus telling the story of

not been aware of before.

The social connection among persons, conceived in this way.


one of reciprocal communicative roles in the constitu tion of expen
ences, actions, and lives . Others are encountered by me. not only as
own
audiences or sounding-boards for the sense-con stituti on of my
ongoin g experience s and projects, but as en gaged in their own.oar!
.
rahves as agents and story-tellers, narratives to whose con s truction
. . at
.
llS IS
}
f '}1
may contn. bute m
my role as audienc e and poss1 b Y en ic . 'd I
div1 ua
least one way to conceive
of the social horizon of t he 10

'

d
erl an
Now t he concept of historicity, as put f orward bY Huss
.
s that rJJY
H eidegger, adds a cruci al el ement to this pictu re. It af firm take a

existence .

ers can
connectio n with the
actions and experiences of oth
foflP
.
ation. a What
special form, apart
from th e relation of reciprocal narr
ccesso ts .1..
we can descn'be as the
re!ation of predecessors and su
.
>"
fll pli
c
..t
lS indcate d is
a priority, not
o 0f ac 0
only of time but al s
0 the WO'
ment . In the case
of the ongoing scientifi c project I take
beCorJJeS
or..
already accom
be!
p1 ished by others. The end of another's w
hiS or-
d
the beginni ng
e
fi
h

of my own. The other need not have nis


h ser-
Wh'c
1
Wo rk, of course , b
bl'
ut some conclusion has been reached
ult
caJl
.
s
as my sta t
be&'n
.
re
er's
r mg point. This
is true whether the oth
1 ,.... ust
used as a b .
ther ..
asis for my own
, and buil t upon , or wh e

poraries,

whose experiences overlap in time with mine. together

"

a way which indeed often corresponds to the older-younger distinc


tion hut is more
accurately characterized as a relation of staggered
and overlappin
g narratives. A significant class of my fellows is made
up of those
who, in different respects, are predecessors or members
of a Prior gene
ration. Those around me are at different stages on thetr
way, and so
me of them offer to me the possibility of my inheriting or
.
taking on
and conh. numg what they have done.
m.
But they in
turn stand in a similar relation to those before the
'Ib
us my soc1
.
a l existenc e not only puts me m contact with a co. .
.
' .. .
.
existing m uIt lf:
a
.
!.1 city of contemporaries;
it connect s me with pecu
1 f
m or
-for
Jar orm f te
elay
the
r
II
we can ca
hand1. ng d0 rr.?oral continuity, wh ich
os
own form which runs from predecessors to success. r .
""
us seque
into
nce ..;;xtends beyond the boundari es of my l 'if e, both
the P
.
ast before m
death.
.
y birth and mto the future after my
It lllust be
1 hat
'
.
ci ty revea s w
ernp hasi zed that this account of h iston
.
ocial
h
'Ne ave b
rtc role for the s
een looking
for all along: a pre-thema
Past .
ha
place the emp
1n the ID
d tvi.
dual 's experience and action. We
d
sis her
an
o Husserl
e on the
. . ng. nor d
Pre-thematic: we are not cIaimi

workJ
208 Schutz in liter
i 1. Schutz:
uck
5
.
The Phe nomen
ology of rhe Socio! World P.Sch ti and Tho"" ss.
:lrOduces
ers
e
e
e
th
st
ity
.
See
NA
rthw
Univ
lrne
of
distinctions
I
mak
h
g

nn,
Th
e
r
l
e
e ern
31 p. 9t. ruc r u res of the Life-World (Evanston: 0

-;--

Time. Narrative, and History

114

Temporality and Historicity

assert, that an explicit preoccup


.
Hetdegger appa rently
atio n Wit. h
.
or
soc1a I past ts a necessary cond itio
n of th
investigation of one's
e on.
l temporality. For the most
going presen t of individua
part it con.
.
h onzon or b ac kgrun d for the
stitutes merely an imp I 1c 1t
present. It
.
will be remem bered that m many cases of action and ex perience th
merely personal past has this same pre- thematic status. But ju t e
the latter occasionall y requires a Besinnung and a narrat ive recoun
ing in order to maintain or reconstitute itself, so the social past may
be called up explicitly as part of a larger picture into which present

concerns and activities can be placed, and in terms of which they are

understood. But even this does not constitute a thematic i nterest or

focus on the past, or any particular part of it, for its own sake. The
past is involved only in so far as it figures in the larger context which
includes present and future.

A good illustration of this is the habitual backward reference that

can be found in the professional journals of practically every di sci

pline from philosophy to physics. The author of an article sets out to


answer a particular problem, to be sure. But this problem is not
snatched out of the air. It is taken u p because the new results ol

colleagues X and Y have made its solution pressing. or be cause it has


repeatedly resisted solution by others. or because it has
or only partially solved. A brief history of the problem and
attempted solution is presented b e fore the author gets d own t o
business of solving it himself. (See the beginning of this stu dy
example of this pattern . ) N aturally such a capsule history ne nr
.
.
r hers. N
span great 1engths of time
or many generatio ns of rese a c
torJ
must the colleagues reforr-e<l to be literally older. But WI" th1n the s
k
.
o is
0f the problem at hc..;:c. hey are predecessors; t heir Prior w r
don
cited in explanati or. ,H;j j .: s
ti fi cation of the work to b
er to be
If an activity suc h l;.,; inquiry needs to be told in or
t of bis
performed , the tell in 1cs a kes its author beyond the acco n. and
ecu i
own activity (the
sto y J{ h i s project's initiation. pros
f others
rk
co nclu si o n) to i
n clu d e the prior and presu pposed wo . 0 1fe lie
.
one s 1
A d 1 f in t he l arger
t
context envisaged by Hei degger.
r does no
to y
tse needs to be told in order to be lived . what life s
include a referen
ce to those wh o went before?
. or her o\\'11
s
What all this
i
shows is that for the i n divid u al. hi
r of l e.
narrative w
t
s
.
c
.....
0
ill
i
e
het her of work or other particu ar P ro
1
arrat1 .
f
n
exists wi th'in a
l
ts
e
su'
1 arger temporal context which 15 1
cessor . ,
character
. a pre d e
"
bt81'
and w h'1c h .
in
e
involves other peopl
ive o
cessor relati
.
narrat
on . Th e i
r
f

ion
mportance of con figurat

been wronly

;
r 8

115

any part of a story acquires its signific


ance fro m
well: just as
.
here as
. h it be Iongs, so any particu
e
whol to wh 1c
ive
lar story
rat
e nar
.
the
arger
1
on
narrative
sense
context
its
of
r
which it is 8
dcpe nds fo
.
Jargr context be considered a larger story, or merely a
this
an
C
part.
ion of stones ? We shall return presently to the notion of 8
success
can note for now that even if we can only speak of
er story. but we
1ar
stories, i t is no "mere" or unrelated succession that they
a p urality of
make up. They are linked in the peculiar relay-form, as we have seen,
and their conten t is joined by the common concerns and interactions

of the indiv idua ls i n volv ed.

Such a narrative context, connecting the individual with a larger

social past, can b e seen as contributing essentially to the sense, for

the individual, not only of what h e or she is doing but even more

strongly of what the individual: is. Husserl conceives of the ego as

constituting itself in the unity of a Geschichte. This term can be


translated as "story," as we saw, and used to refer to the narrative

unity of the individual's own stream of consciousness. But to the


extent that the paradigm of consciousness is the quest for theoretical
underst anding, and
this personal "story" is Jinked to the "history" of
that quest, the individual
understands himself as being essentially
the inhe ritor and
continuer of a tradition. Especially in The Crisis,
this is the
indi vidu al's "self-constitutio n."
Hei degge r does
not use the term self-constitution, but he does view
selfh ood
as an achievement and i t is clear that self-interpretation
and seIf-u
nderstanding are its means. But the resolute, authentic self
lllust i n each
ca se have some concrete content. The chap ter on
.
.
h ISt
ori ct"tY tell .
s us that this content is derived from our connecllon
.
fu ilise w
ho go before us. Thus the individual's concrete sense 0f
self whi h
. never'
c W ill pre
sum ably be different for each individ ual, is
th eiess
essenr
ta 1ly linke d to the socia l past.
w, acn s
1h
saying that hat e
p
m
ind
i ld uaJ u u t he notion of historicity by
.
s
t
o
n
cal
i s ts t h us
h1
a
a function of his or her PIace 10
setti
at
th
t
r
g This is not a
the s
tnigh b.
"straigh tforward " affirmation of
.
a
l
e
ua
d
v1
.
. .
ma d e b Y a
d1
..
h 'tstori cal determ1mst wh o caJI s the in
Prod Uct"
s
'
.
e
c
r
fo
. . 0f h tstor
cal
'
'
y or the inevitable result of h iston
.
ua
'd
1
1
d
v
ll 1s a Ph
is
enomeno logical assertion about what the in 1
"for h
d " 'of
t t se
stan
de
1.8
in
himself n lf." It means that the indivi dual 's self-un r f
1c1t.
x
Pass es thr
o
e
p
s
e
to h
ough history. There are varying d egr
. a l a st
t
c p
is Und
is
ers tanding, of course. At the 11m1't the h1s.ton
oPerat
'v1dual
1ve o n !

d
1
in
at th
the
Y in the manner of a vague horizo n for
e oth
er extr
. . nal ist" we
trad1t1o
e me woul
d perhaps be that "proud

Instead

?ess

Time, Narra tive, and Hislory

116

.
seems at times to emerge from u .
earlier who
.
.
e1deo
1
ment'1one d
.
vi dua1 ,25 "'.6ers
g port rait of th e aut henhc mdi

sin
confu
1n
sometimes
" grasp" or "reach " that constit utes the i either
r
al
po
d
.
n i v1du
case the tem
al'1
.
nders tandi ng reach es back to inclu de a conti
If
se
e
U
u ulll
n
narrativ
of
scope . These m ak e up a trad ition sin
cessors in its
ce the
'
Prede .
1
n
a
d
d
h
or
ong
a
own

pass
wh
at th e ind . tr
tion is to
.
.
essentia1 func
v1dual
.
f
ways
o
exist ing.
way of proJects and
the
n

i
up
takes

4.

A New Problem

notion ?f historicity derived from Husserl


Having outlined the
and
.
related it to our conception of temporality
and
H idegger and having
turn a critical and evaluative gaze upon th
is
n rrative, we must now
just how much it accomplishes,
and
notion. We must ask ourselves
t to under stand history.
what it may overlook, in our attemp
into the thought of these phi
historicity
of
The introductio n

losophers stems from the recognitio n that to understand what the

individual is we must move beyond the individual to the social and


in particular to the social past. Both accounts thus begin with the
individual. But it can be argued that they also retain throughout the
individual 's perspective and end with the individual as well. Does
this permit them a sufficient understandi ng of history itself as a

phenomenon?
What Husserl and Heidegger ask is: to what extent and how is the
social past implicated in what the individual does and is? In our
terms this means: to what extent does the story of my action or my
life require reference to the prior actions or lives of others? In answer
ing this question we learn something about the way individuals
interact, and we discover a peculiar form of temporality (what
called the relay-for m) which governs the interconnected actio ns n
lives of different individuals. But what we learn is still somethi
about particular actions and individual lives, namel y that the soc

and hi tor!cal past is somehow constit utive f tei:n


.

Histcr
But is h istory about parti cular actions and md1 vidual hves?
.
,,1
.
""
.
.
.
r1ans often write about tt1em
the h1ston
, and we certa m l y thmk 0f
. d' du
t tn IVI
process as bemg made up
in some sense of the things tha
d 0ot
cer
al do. .Yet we also
thir1k of history as be ing prop erly con n jons.
, n
prim arily with
individ uals but w i t h group s: peop les
.

25 See chapter Ill, p.


94 above
.

TemporaJity and Hi'st .


o nc11y
.
n d historians tend to deal
A
117
tc.
e
s
With t. nd1. v1d
c)asse
. ua I
.
actions
and
. es on l y to the extent t hat these tell us sorne
.
th'ing abo
1tv
uch actions a ffect and to which the . n ' .
. ut the &mups
s
h
.
c
d
wh1

i
1 v1dual
.
1
s bet
.
rica
ong. U we
process
histo
with what h
tify the
as generally
.
.
1'den
consists
i nterested
of the events
the n it
acti v1.1.1es, and
. tor ians,
h 1s
careers of
. sprea d out over hme.
groups
of
this
inning
chapte
r we raised th
At the beg
e quest t.on
of how to
md 1' v 1' d ua l temporahty and the
o
m
fr
ind1v1'dua1
rnove
.
past
to th e
We spo k e of movi ng beyond the 1 nd
. tori cal.
hIS
IVI'du a 1 to the
.
.
. al
Certainly the notio n of historicity succeeds in do
past.
ing
thi
s since

ts recogm ze the mters


ubjective charac
'
'ts proponen
I
ter of h u man . ex1s
.
'
e
l
'b
a
pecu
escn
1ar
l
y
d
and
mtersu
bje
e
ctive mod e f te
tenc
o
m
por
al
develop ment. B ut to w hat extent do they touch on soc1. a1
.
.
enti. lles
at the heart f h'
such as groups and peoples which are
.
o 1stonca
. l
.
accounts and presu mab ly of the historical process itself? Have

they a
. .

1
place for suc h enh hes . Do their accounts leave a place for
such
enti ties? To th e e tent that our account so far has dealt with
the
.
social, everything it says could be conceived in terms of one-to
-one
relatio nships betwe en persons; that is, both the role of audience
to a
particular narrative, and predecessor to a course of action
or an
individual life, can be fulfille d by individuals. Thus everythi ng so
far
which goes beyon d the individ ual is either a simultaneity of such
relationships or a series of them spread out over time.
An account which does justice to what is genuinely historical , by
contrast, would speak of what is proper to groups as such. And if we
wish to keep our focus on the connection between time and narrative
in relation to h istory, something needs to be said about
the tem
porality of groups, and about the manner in which narrative organi
zation can be s a i d to characterize that temporality. Clearly the notion
of historicity, a s
discussed so far, does not give us this, and it is this
we must seek here.

But do the terms of our discussion so far really permit us to do


does such a project even make sense? It could be argued
hat Hus serl'
s and Heidegger's concerns remain ultimately with the
ind ivi dual
, not merely because that is where their interest lies but
because what
they say is made possible by a method (the phe
ornenolo
gica l ) that is linked in principle to individua l experie nce.
n coul d
h h
not the same be sa i d of our own whole approach, w ic is
d
d
n
ed ot SG m uch from what Husserl, Heidegger, and others sai .
a
m their m
ethod ?
W hav
account.
e ins isted
e
throughout that ours is a "first-person"
this.? I ndeed,

Time. Narra t i ve, und Hist ory

1 18

Hussorl an d other mod em Phi


x a mple o f
lo
Follow.ing the e
.. 1 .. . d
S<>pho'...'
. of .. m y ..
an spokon
Wt
p erson
oxp
t
s
r
fi
orl
tho
d
e
nco, "tn
1
u
.
o
..
s
e
v
a
,
h
f
is.
t
1at
rom
t h e perspo
y
.
is "for me.
ct l
action. etc. I t
ve of tht
.
h
h
at
t
hme
as
,
ho
t
agent
.
or
prospoct
.
'ng subject

l vc.ro1
exper1onc1
. Is tho
desert' bed . An d lt
have
we
ind
ure
ivld ua 1 to.
.
sp oct .i ve struct
Who
.
nc o ro 1 os i n our n orr a t 1
ter-auche
charac
tor
.." 1 nterpre.
v
narra
.
p l ays the

.
ora l ity and in our d '1 scu ss ion of tho p robl em 1
tahon or temp
o au
.
t hat h istory as t ho
. e r consistent
thus al t oge t h
socl 1
thorshI' p Jt is
8
Pt
.
. uel's
if at a l l . on h hortz on or. t h e tn d'1v1d
oxporience
shou l d appear.
the inchv1dual that h i story has the "pm-thorn
As we sa w. it Is for
at1c
a l l along. In dee d it is hard t o see ho
w the
status we have sought
ma ti c could ha vo any meaning except in rolello
n otion of the pre-the
n
indi vidu al sub ject .
tho
for
atic
them
is
t
wha
to
account , though It may also
To be sure, such a first-person
be
e
contents of an i so la ted , lndivtd.
h
t
about
t
o
termed "subjective," is n

insist that tho in !enlionoliry they


opening on t o a worl d and that
an
t
i
makes
ascrib e to consciousness
p heno men olo gy treats of the world as m uch as of consclousnH.
This means that it s ho uld be able t o enlighten us abo ut any sort of

u al soul. Phonomenologists rightly

entity of whi ch the individual could possi b ly have consciousnes&.


If this is so, can it not then enlighten us a bo ut entities such u

Its method
would still unacceptably l im i t its options in dea li n g with this topic.
Groups would have to be discussed w i t h respect to their bclng/otthe
con scio us individual subject. This docs not mean, of c u rse . thal

soc ial groups? Not doubt it can, but it

s eem s

to mo t hat

o
could be treated only as "objects" i n t h e narrow sense. Social
grou p s are thematic objects of observation and inves ti gation for ''
ciologi st s and anthropologists, who aspire to a det ach ed and "objec

they

tive" stance. But if we sought a pre-thematic awareness, a more


u
flexible ph en o me nologi ca l approach would ask how su ch gro
t or
figure in the world of any individual, whether in thcmselve
.ion
act
fu n ct io ni n g as the horizon or background for experience and
which is explic itly direi:ted some where else.
st! 11 be
Interesting as such an investigation m ight prove, It ca n
r l ' t'
argued that it
. would tell u s about the exis te n ce and t he wrnpo a ' '
hn
?f so ial groups only i n a very i nd i rec t way. The real rocu.s w
in qu iry would still be the n
al
i d i vid u a l and the indi vid u 8 of
re
On the other hand,
atu
any direct approach to the n
81 tuJfot
gro up s, one which wou l d consi d er t he m apart from their c;a ar
l
l
the in d ividual ,
woul d have to aba n do n the pheno m eno o
t
proach we hav
e used so far. But t o abandon that a p proach.

of::i.
f

Tu m p oro l l t

y Ond 1 11 1"
011 _1;

lt y
up tho c.:h1mco of opply1 r18 to ot
vo
l lQ
i
g
l!il 01 ttti
18 to
nCl) 11 11.1
pllo n 8 or tom portillty Hfld hort'"
c
rl
s
h
o
Ah
" tlVO I Il!lt
t h0 d
I , ..., .,,(! 1m1nrg1Jd i..vI <if
. . t I gn.t 1 on. !\'
1or those ttt"
.aorller
lnvos
.
- " ' ea
"
m
l 1n
ur
0
we hoV\I.
.Oll i\ , h
st-porsoi\ occo u nt . Thu11, wliut ho r ,,
11
tlr
6d
h
t1l
to
o
unti1n1.inol
t
oaI141 (}f
8r) p rouc h t 0 tl 10. group
.
800lfl8 flUI'"
I
'
..
tt
""
...
U
I

llrI Y to
40Y I
be ' lhl td 1>e ,
group Is o pproochod na
o
h
t
r-.
nt:
o
n
110 It oltho
acco u
r 11 10 ob
1rl(;1 Qf
ntl on or I n lht rtlotlo11 to n ubJcct.
g
l
t
os
v
n
t
y woy to 011copo t h i s couso
quoni o? Wral rn
le t hore a n
tg .ht biiKln by
l
oo k at ft P<>811lbl n phon
8ocond
a
omonolo
toking
1.co
R
c l t1ppr<J8
. th lo
sold such <mtHlo8 wou l d hllvo 1..
" UIJ
gro up11 . Wo
fll 1 llUro
d U !Jhjl'tl
I
r
for t h o indlvlduo o ot hos t 08 80mot hl no
wh l cli n
gurod in tho wr
Jf Id
1m
Tiws
llt
l
.
rolutlon
l
<
l
u
o
l
v
nd
wou l d iuom to 'VU
o{ tho i
' " 1 1 l0 8 1Bltltl n
"
I)
1. , 1
Po i n t 0r sue: I.1 an I n vost igo t ion . ut wo could lnvokti 8. Uoot
i amo ua
t
on
t
w
n
,
I
I
d
o
l l11ou; wo hnvo nlrood y
dist incti o n bo o
mnd<l Uitl 'm thlt
disti nctio n In effoct in our d l 8Cu8slon of lntof8ubjocllvlty l!nd 118
tfllo
In histo ricity. Since gro u ps oro compoaod of I ndi v i dua l poriont.
would th o I-thou rolotlo n not bo rnoro opproprluto 8trittlog point
than tho 1-lt? 11rnt ls, shou l d 8 u ch a phonornonolosy not 91,11m11(,h
groups via tho second ro th or tho n tho thJrd potto n?
Tho obvious objectio n to this la that wh llo groups au; eompo80d of
lndlvicJunls thoy aro no t thom11olvo1 lnlviduol pureun1 but c:ollfit.

t lon s of thorn. At tho some tf mo groups oro lndlvlduol 8nlltloa.


di st in ct from ono o n o thor, and It dooe not soom lnapproprlot11 10 Hk .
phonomen o l oglco l ly ( rot u rn l 11g to tho flrstpouon IW8poctlvo).
whothor "my" ro l o t lon to a group 11 1088 /Jko my rnlutlon to 1 thing
thnn It Is like my ro l u t l o n to orwthor porson. A woup, for ox11rn p ln.

like a porso n, Is somothlng I con not o nly oxporlonen ind ohsnrvo IM


also co mmun icate ond lnto roct with Horo It m11y bo thought tlMt th@
.
ocond pers o n pl u ro l (I-you) ruth or thon tho tocond poron rlnguler
IIthou) Is at Issue. No o tholou group1 do bocomo porsonlAed 8rtd
v r
wo deal wi
th them and spook of thorn In many of the 1Mnv Wlfyt In
Whi ch wo duo)
corruriunle#IO
with o n d sponk obout lndivldualt. Wo
crur
With co rn
ponilJ8 and ln8titutlo na. We aro huld ro-pon lhlt fur
We
w.
conduct by
l
tho s t o to which can accuso ua of violull nM "'
th i nk of
rrr Jn&
the stuto o n of componlcs and ln811tuHun. 11 pti rfo
nl1
atM
actions for
Pt1tll
.
which we hold oach
, of them ros p01uiblo
du
clu
b
at0 811
othotj
. d mak o
docJ11Jo ns, nation docl11re wer o.n
CV o lt , e
tc .
iYI
Ab o t
of cour8' 1fw
Slid port1onlflcutfo11tt of groups. ooo
88 k I f
wo wmm unlca18
hoy &io not moro ly fm:;on1 do p<1rfor. In c.n
faci ho Mtt lunl ,nd
not
wJ th grou p
1
s but with heir roprosontatlv68, and

His tory
T.1m e . Narrati ve. and

120

te t o groups could b e said to


I ts we attribu
rtdUtt
sonal lr8
h
oth er pcr
on s that mak e t he m up.
pers
e
h
t
of
s
A p
to tho e
ely
mat

ulti
ropl y that his concern is not ontol ogical that e..
is l may
11
nom enoI og
1
ed
not in whcthor gro ups re ally ore large
ercs t
lnt
is
t
sc.a
6
that h
that
so,
ar
we
appe
refer to the
m and
fact thAt thoy
th
In
but
persons
such .
troat th em as
should favor such an app roach b
.
..
hou ght that we
-'-<Ul se
.
.
It migh t be l
of groups. By trcall ng the 5,,,. 1
n
ctivizallo
. . 0ffect
subjc
1
a

V\.lt.I
'1t penn 1ls m
h t be ab le to find
e person we m1g
of
In
alogue
it
an

.
.
gro up as an
and action at least slm
organ ization of experience
ilu
or
I.
ily
ora
.
.
temp
,
.
..
'
red "from t hc ms1 de m the m d 1' v1d ual. The
to what we dlscove
.
adopt ing e quas1 -seco d-per son approach lo the
trouble is that in
phenom cnolog 1cal first-person account ls
u the subject of the
from the inside t all but again stand.!
group
lly viewing the

: !

is treated as a quasi person rather than a


ted as somethm g (or someone) that
thing, the group is still interroga
i n my worl d.
ex ists for me or figures somehow
Obviously we are in search of a n approach to the social group

it
O\'CT against it. Though

which will permit something like a view "from the inside. " But the
answer should be obvious! I am precisely inside a group by being a

member of it. What is dearly needed is an analysis of the group from


the point of view of membersh i p or participation in it. The interest
Ing thing i s that such an analysis need not even give up the Mfirst

person" perspective: in calling on these grammatical categories we


have almost forgotten that the first person (like the second and the
third) can be plural as well as singular. It is often in using the
pronoun "we" that each of us as an individual ex presses his or her
membership in some particular group. It is in each case I who say
"we." When this happens . a new subject emerges for the experiences

and actions in which I am engaged. What our earlier analysis. ci


action and experience did not take
belDS
into account was that my
e it
engaged in an action or
mak
experience does not necessarily
ake
merely my action or
m
experience ; that is, i t does not necessarily
me the sole or even
the pr0per subject of it.
On the other hand,
ac
a ;,:-subject cannot be consi dered in abstr
.
ts
hon from the m
ee
m
d'iv1 d Uc2'.3 i_:iat make
it up. Thus this approach
one desiderat um
that Wt: '":1cn tione d earli er: that the ind ividual's
not be forgotte
of S()CI.
n. We aio com
p la i ne d about disc uss ions
groups wh ic
h are
.
alystS
.
.
really .s cussion s about the md
ivid ual An
of the we
.
of the varI m.1s
uals saY
drcums t ances in which in d'ivt'd
'

Temporolily and Hisl ork


fly

12\
m ple . wou ld be a d iscu ssion of lndt
lor ex a
vlduaJ
5 W hl c:h ts
o n ab ou t the gro up.
d i sc us si
.
8
"
'-allY
I
si gn a J s t h at a certa n methodolo gka l ah Ut la
But t hls
reqhu1 red U
t
o
come
l
lnt o our view
U p as we s
. Cle ar 1 Y t e
.
the gro
P hethat of the first perso
logi cal perspe.ctive,
n s 1n...
, ,1ar w \ b
.
&i.u
hc
0ornono
e-rvt h i n g as 1t extsts for the Indivi dual or fi
vieWS ev J
ln
rus
gu
the
.
a l s worl d . o bscures one of the distinctive L- - 1 ..t .
cU
.
\..Wlfac e,l.3t1cs of
In v i d u
y t hat the individ ual can be ..
Up wh ich is precise l
.L "
mentuer
the gro
I
am
subje
not a .. member" of
t
c
s
ou
i
c
n
s
o
c
'
8
the

th a no
c 1 see or
ft. nS
of the other persons I encounter, or of my world. All th
or
e
us .
.
ese
.
as it were. i t a ct as a su b') ect and as an individ ual .
leave me .
But u
a i cipates m a group and says "we," my individu
ne w ho p rt
ality
effaces itself before a su bj ect larger than
efers to or
itself. Has
a place for this? Husserl often says that the
henomeno logy
overall
enl gical a nal ysi s is the complex
pheno
atrix for
ego-co

gito
.
v
cogilolu m . lnte rsubJect1 1ty enters the pictu re for him only by raising
the problems of the cogitatum cogitan s. This may be too rigid 1
framework for som e of Husserl's successors. such as Heidegger or
Merleau-Ponty. B u t do any of them make room for a cogilamus?
we. "

'

__

We decided that in order to do justice to the historical we had to


say more about the temporal existence of groups. We now see that in
order to do this we must not so much change the object of our

analysis as change the subject (as it were) from singular to plural,


from 1 to we. But in order to do this in turn we m u ch raise certain
methodo logical questio ns about how this subject is
to be ap
proached. It is to these question s that we tum in the next chapter.

From l to We

From I to We
1. In Search of the Tran
s-In divi

dual S u b
Ject

How do we initiate an inv


estigation of
so cial
.
on the group, w h ose point
rea l i. ty
of de pa rtu
. h 'centered
re
is neit
nomeno1 og1caI I nor t he str a1g
er th
htfo rw ard tre
atment
e Phe.
.
the world? This is the quest
of
ion which arose
an it
in the la
elll in
surveyed some of the def
P
ects of the concep
t of hist
. ier as \\ii
proposed was an investigati
oric ty.
on which is still fi
at
rst person
that is, we pla n to explore wh
15 Plu
at is involved in
the
Pheno no ral;
expressed when we use the term
nofte
"we." Let us
n
take a preJirn
at some of the problems invo

i
narylook
lved.
We are proposing to treat the
group not as obje
ct but as
Does this mean we are tre ati
SUb'Jett
ng groups as analo
gue s of per
s
we pointed out, groups
ons
?
often do take on
subjective or
characteristics for us. In
pers
onal
ord ina ry speech and
in ma ny
political and journalistic dis
forms <i
course, we sometimes
ascribe to grou
such thing as actions, attitud
ps
es, traits of character,
even emotions,
which see m properly to app
ly to individual person
s. Nations act,
classes feel outrage, families
mourn, etc. What is the
status of such
talk? Do groups as such have
thoughts and intentions, and
act ac
cording to them, as persons do?
Do they have feelings and experi

ences? Are som e groups just persons


"writ large"? Such notions have
been taken seriously by thinkers of
the past, such as Plato, Rousseau,
end Hegel. But most theorists today
find them uncongenial and far
fetched.
. .
Even those who argue for "holism" over ...md1v1d
. . .. In the
uahs
m
current methodological debates about social science and history 111
.
.
far from approving any personifi cation
o f soc1aI groups i The qurs-

1. See

.
,
the collection Modes of lndiv1duo/Jsm
ond Collectivlsm

122

123
whether social reality
can be acc
eba tes is
d
s
e
.
e
ounted
for
111 th
nc e t o facts . a b out m d'1v1'dua1 s. Indivi
fere
du
110
re
ali
1
sts hold
bY
ma
ult
tel
re
y
i
a
co
mp
es
osed of ind
te1'f
50c eti
. 1
iv idual
sO
1 ation of soc1a
since
s, any
events would
... 81
n
a
have to trace
.
I' pl te ?xP
.
th
em to
tue
e
co
nt
nst
parts. Ho hsts
i
f those
argue that
corflbehav1or 0 c
soc
i ty
idu
ly of ind iv . als but als o of the
tbe
relatio ns am e
ot rne r
.
n
s
t
1
s
. nal a nd economic re ahons, for
ong
oriSj
' u
example) and
c
(inS t 1 t t lO
that the
..,
can
als
no
du

eve
t
ivi
n
b e understood
..
the"
f 1nd
. .
apart fro
ior 0
m
any description of how in
behav
'"-us
l"
ns.
o
divi
t'
dua
1
s
ls act w'll
l
e
r
t i "societ al facts,"

e
s
to use Mandelbaum'
t}lo
ose cer a n
s ter m.2
.
resoPP
1is
'
"
1v1
the
is
d
m
ua
d
t s who generally
it
s
te
b
d
s
want to hold
e e
p In t h
tentiona l terms, and who see in holis
m the threat
ta 0 in
n
e
m
of
J1 to
. st1. c and deterministic expla nation which reduc
o
es individch8n1
e
rn
8
gs in a social mach'me. They tend to be
o mere
advocate s of
uals t
rat r than Erklaren when it comes to dealing with hum
n
e
h
te
an
vers
refer a Collingwoodian "reenactment" which
t
looks for
even s;
peopl e act rather than laws w i h o
. ld link their
the reas
to its anteced ents. An d it
ally
s
is md1v1duals
cau
whose
behavior
th'1s way, e1"th
ndersta nd m
er
u
qua
e
md'1v1'd ua 1s or as
ns
.
tlO
ac
w
'de al types. We can do th'is b ecause we are individu
Weben. a n 1
als
can observe other individuals directly, and are capable
urselves,
of
.
.
. .
o
urselves in other s1tuahons.
i g
ma mm
are thus the champions of liberal
These h orists
individualism
.
g. N
see a s soc1 aI engm
they
eenn
one of them wants to
agamst w hat
take the mentalist'.c and voluntaristic properties of individuals and
.
8 1 them t o societies cone1ved as macroperso ns. lnd ed hey
:
think such an application even more d angerous to md1v1
du.
.
. th an they do socia l mechanism. The choic e and fr eedom of the
ahty
.
.md.IVI'dual perso n might seem even more threatened 1f
the l atter .is

d
tool
the
as
of a n over-arching personal'1ty carrym
conceive
g out its

own designs.
For their part the holists, though not always the deten . .
mmsts ?r
mechanists portrayed by some of their opponents, have no _
mterest m
this version of holism. Of the notion of a
"group mind" Ernest
Gellner says: "I take it no one is advoc
ating this serious y."3 An ony

.
.
Quinton , in arguing for a form of holism
(or at least against 1 d1v1du

alism). asserts without argum


ent that attributing mental predicates to

td. John O'Nt!U

::
:hy

(London:

Heinemann. 1973); see


also W. H. Dray, Perspectwes on H'151ory (London:
Routledge A Kega
n Paul, 1980), pp. 47-66.
2. O'Neill, ed ..
pp. 221-34.
3. "Explanatio
n In History, ibid. . p.
251.

124

Time, Narrative, and


History
a group is "plainly metaphorical" and
"alw ay s
.
an in
ascnbmg sue h pred1ca tes to its memb
d Ife
ers. "4 Th .
et .,.
e
a,
ways can always be found of translating
Picat

ion y of
such attr
1
i
8
U
t
hons
ments about individuals.
in t0 hat
Sta
There are no doubt many reasons why
te
the 1de
of a c
subject is not taken seriously today. One
oll)ll)
of the
e
the resolutely third-person perspective
from w '. W ve r, is s \Jl\al
c the
social reality is viewed. Discussions
Problely
such as t
e e b
individualists and holists are primarily
at
e bet of
epistemol
:
.
.
1
og1c
a)
.
o do og1ca I d1scuss1ons a b out how socie
<ln d een
t y can
in
et)i
be kn
tifically. They often turn on questions of
ow n
S c ie
what c a
b
e di
served: individual behavior can be, some
say but in . rectly 0o.
s t itur1
economic relations cannot. The argument
ona1
also turns .
and
oft.en 0
onto Iog1ca
I commitm
ents a bout the nature of
n basi
societ . it
c
is com
of individuals and their behavior; all else
posed
is me y
a c onc
addition.
ept u
al
Such considerations of what is and what
can be know 1
n eave
first person only the role of (single) scientific
t 0the
observer st a .
ndin g
against society which is his or her object.
over
If we propose to consider society as subject
rather tha
b'Ject, We
are not suggesting straightforward ontologica
l claims ::
out
what
society is or about how it is known by an
observer . We
P pose
instead an investigation which is methodologic
ally anchore
d in the
first person. Stale d m
th"is way our proposal is famil
i ar: it cou
ld be
said that modern philosophy, from Descartes on,
h as been cha
rac.
terized by just such an approach. Here the human
su bject is not
simply treated as an item in the known world about
whom various
claims are advanced, including claims about his ability
to know.
Rather, all knowledge claims are initially suspect: they
are sus.
pended until they can be warranted in the direct experience
of the
knower. Descartes insists that each of us consult his own experience
and draw everything from that .
But this reference to "each of us" reminds us that of course the
methodological first person of modern philosophy is precisely sin

r!i

gular: it is the individual who is enjoined by Descartes's s k epti cism


to place all knowledge provisionally in question. Subjectivity is
firmly anchored to the particular.

Yet this is not quite true. In the eyes of some thinkers, at least, the

epistemological subject of modern philosophy at some point be-

4. Anthony Quinton, "Social Objects," Proceedings of lhe Arislolelion Society 76

(197}. p. 17.

125

to We
f ro m I

.
re generalized
. d al and acquires a mo
ind1v1 u
ject must gra d uate
o the
pp ns the sub
fr
Jted
Jllbefore th is ha
hysical
ty to one of metap
J 1sc
th at
gic al pnon
I
o
e
dee m
0
t
rn
h
that
te
t5116. trll
1. t who believed
of ePis
.
11 ts
s a rea is
a
w
rtes
(l)S
jtiOll
1. dly be affirmed on th e b as 1s of
a
s ll pesca
t
d
il't!l s pe we b world coul v
e of
go beyond the evidenc
of t e
f!O i" as
he h ad to
ce
ten
0i r1l t ..., 8)itY bod. even if
exis
.
d evidence for the
r/ do v lllet
determi n e
y
II
a
i cult'i es
ced, and d'ffi
ebieetive e ration
s than convin
s stl es to th d O the rs were les
cartes.s
Des
from
led
status
ells
f Go
s external
id'
d to th e
for the wor
ed5 1ut6 o
The world was reduce

1 ism
a11 p1aevidelle forms o f id ea
L
z
conceived by H ume
an d eibni ' or
var10u s
.l.1111
erke ley
B
to
n
i
)
. of a ment a l
(
nd s
as we can know it,
status, a s far
"'' of Jlll
e
h
t
1ePtst 35 having
.
ao
distinction hemt o this picture the
.ntroduced
al'
ct
i
o
h
w
c0'15tfll 111
empirical subject wh en speak'mg
ta l and the
a
n
It ,s tr anscend e
This distinction is
the wor ld it knows.
the
onstru. cts
h ave seen 't
1-een .nd which c
l
interpreters
but some
1111
ial in K an t
or
you
takes place it is not
the usly controvers
ui.ne know ledge
olono
.
at when gen
o
.
a umversal sub'iect m
but
jng th
s,
affi rllly par .i u 1ar pers on, who know
is
c
lY
on
ent
goes,
argum
t
1 dividuals, so the
Lor an ehoW all share. n
.

sorn
perspectives or .sub1echve 1mwhich
any fleeting changing
.
sent so m
to attain to a single wor 1d to
is
re
scientifically
P
But to know
.
n
o
s
l
When you
si
of universal and necessary aws.
Pres
ture as a set
a
n
at
is
t he same thmg we
amve
.
fi 0 r mathematical truth 1t
W sc1enh c
1 erences
andikn a h same th ou ght we think, whatever the d'ff
thu t e
.
bJoW and s
personal histories which make us d'1stmct
ubjective s t a t es or
. dividuality lies error; when we t h'mk t he truth we
1
indiVldu als. n m
'
Thus Kant is linked with Averroes s mterpretahon of
are all one.
ks a 11 true
God w ho t hm
the Universal Thinker is
I
,\ristotIe i n wh'ch
.
th ugbts eith er on his own or through us. Spmoza, though not an
1
similar views about the relation of God as thinker to the
11:4115'

f'

':rsJll

'

inus

'd-1

had

individual so ul. All these conceptions came together in the early

ages of G e rman idealism.

Thus the firs t- p erson approach characteristic of modern philoso

phy does lead by this path beyond the individual. But can this path

lie of help to us? There are two reasons why it cannot


.
The first is that its very argument is suspec

t. It is based on the
questionable e pistemological
premise (an ancient one, to be sure)
tin order to
know some thing the mind must be
or become like its
1 ::Thus a universal object known
requires a universal subject. It
r. confuses
1
the specific iden tity of
what is thought with the
umencat ide
n t1 tY of the acts
or occasions of its being thought, and

'

120

Time, Narrative
' and H'IS1 o
ry
mokos tho further illegitimate
move fro
m the se
Identity of the subject who thinks
the
These ar8
un
Um ents for
subjoct make the same erro r as
h
a lln
does psy c
1\-e
ologi sm,
Whllo tho latter argues from the
but in re
partic ular
p itYI
t'-1
t
hough t
universality of its objects, the form
to the'lerse
er ost u ate
:
.
non.
the un
iv er sai1
ob1ccts and cone 1ude that the sub'i e
ct mu st bI e u
Ii
'Y
OIV ets
al as W
Somo or the bost offorts of twcnticthcentury og.ic
ell
, semant
epistemology, beginning with Husserl
ics, an d
and Frege, ha
.
ve bee11 d
evoted
t o sor tmg ou t th e universe11ty of objects of h 8
t ou h
of mea nin
Itself from the particularities of thinking,
'
g
and h. e 11
is gen eral
ly
difficult to discern any real progress in philoso
ptw
1Y h ere at leas t
som e
worst confusions have been exposed.
of

to

vers.1

of

a
\ d

tho

Such logical attacks may have little effect on the


underIymg
appeal
that tI 10 i. d ea of o supraporsonal subject has for
ma
n
y
peop1e. It
.
. the mystic
rospond s to cortom concerns m
al tradition (a sens eoltbe
onen?ss of oil things and especially minds) and provides
8 noi"I
solution to the problem of how to conceive the rel at i n between God
and his crooturos. Its critics aro quick to point out that this solution

rolsos as ma n y quostions as it answers. But in any case, its rele11nce

to

a conception of social reality is hard to see. Even if it were entirely

free of conceptual difficulties it would

still not

be applicable to

social groups. It moves from the individual thinker directly to 1


unlvursol thinker which presumably encompasses. in itsspccial111y ,
all humanity without differentiation. But social groups are par
duab
ticular, and aro to be distinguished not only from the indivi
the
V
who mnko them up but also from each other. F\Jrtbor. whate\
l'i
indi
relation may be of Individu al to group and of individual
ternis
ual within tho group. it is surely not conceivable simpl
SOC19I gio'!IS
tho unity that c omos of thinking the same thought.
interaction 8 th-1.
on g go not only in thought but in action and
th e sam 1
It can also bo argued that in order to think
mmon aild'
ludl\!lduals must first communicate. for which a co
. s E,"tll
di lon
end o common tradition a ro only necessary con l
un
thuso conditions aro pros nt individuals do not
...eu
m
onu anothur. and communication mu st work to O\'tUUI
fonmco botwoon individuals.
iodi''
,-tt:G'
Thu s thro aro good reason s for
th1t the rno\'\l
t
subject to s-ocial grou p is n ot merely differen t from.
&II!

to

tn dlviduGl to a puhtth"e uni \ rsal subject: it is also



movtt, CQnditio.n of its possibility. which must
_;.,
t -

n 'such k\\p to the


un h'\U'Slll m(;)l.. e\'tm the re.ni

ill
th.tt
Jmilln1l ar
t.S
n y conshfoNttion of the matter convinces

o
1

alwass

saying

tual

d
i.:dif-

::

pnd

..
be ..

127

from I to We

ple) society stands


re, tradition, for exam
e, cultu
g
universality of thought or
Ys (as Jang dual and the supposed
v1
of W8 th e nd1
1

a h'm dranee or bamer


itutes

const
n
ean that it
11et11t>e
d oe s not m
.

d
as
d
the
S
ive
mstea
conce
1
be
aside it can
0 'fh
d to cast
ieaso
e n ee
rsal to appear.
w
h
enables the unive
bic
wh'ich
)'
iar
some readers of Hegel's attack on Schelte rm e d

.
n
ents remind
m
1
u
r
' ts no acc1a
' S
e g
Phenomenology o, p m t this
Il tbes
the
o
t
face
Pre

forward by Merleau-Ponty
n Ih
ments were brought
li ng i
'
ilar arg u
Sim
, for th'mk'mg l't cou Id
t.
d
ihon
d en
"intellectualist' tra
wh 0 le
the
t
ns
agai
ms of intersubjectivity and communica
ass the proble
by
r
o
avoid
a universal thinker.5 Merleau
the abrupt shift to
a
m
y
b
tion
oach with phe
ing the intel lectu alist appr
s c trast
Ponty
h always re
whic
)
his
own
and
1 ogy (in this case Husserl's
wa
nomen o
t
Iy true that
1s
am
l

't
cer
d
n
A
ecti vity as a prob lem.
rded I intersubj
the
adopted the distinction between . transcenden
ga
Husse r, even if he
.
ego, did not use the former to md1cate a transta! and the empirical
of his more superficial commentators to the
individual subject. some
's transcendental ego is singular (it
cont rary notwithstanding. Husserl
way), it constitutes
is simply you r I, considered in a very special

. ,

itself in the unity of a history, and it has the problem of communicat


ing with other transcendental egos
.
But this brings us back to the point we reached at the end of the

last chapter. where we were forced to conclude that Husserlian

phenomenology, indeed more generally twentieth-century phe

nomenology, could not overcome its resolutely first-person-singular


!Klint of de pa rtu re The same could be said, in a slightly different
"11Y of that strain of modem philosophy
which we have examined

tries to transce
nd the individual but hold onto its first-person

point of view The


"transcendenta l" sub 1ect

1s
at wh.ic.
'
h 1t
amves
sh11
singuJ stl ll an l. We are still in
search of an account which centers
.

ic
rnetb:olog
ally on not the I but the we
2.

Moving be

he\

fond Phenomenology: Common Experience


and Common i\dfon

draised certai. n doubts about the capacity of Husserlian

':u appr!orneology
hints about ho But

if

we

Oil

liberate itself from iu 6.rst-penon


look closely at both thin.ken we may
to

w to mm"e
beyond them.

8- of ptjca.

p.p. 6-M.

Ti me Narrative, and History

128

.
To begin with, both seem to want to exte nd the1r
.
first
nce
an
f
d
temp
o
ex1st
s
accoun
orality
singular
to entities be Person.
nd the
individual. Heidegger m one passag e extends th
not
e
ion of
Geschehen (the root of his concept of histori city, as w
saw) t
o the
community . the people" (Gemeinschaft , Volk.). This
e c
g
common destiny (Geschick) is not a mere collectio n o f hehen or
ndiV iduai
.
fates, he assures us, but derives f rom our "being toge th er .
n the 't.:1.
....,e.,
m communicat

world and esta blis hes 1'tse If "


ion and in t
s tuggle."&
But we are not given any further details on how this oc
nd it
remains a hint and nothing more. The remainder of the d

Mi

"


5111 of
historicity, as we saw, centers on the relation of history to
the au t n.
e
ticity of the individual's existence.

Husserl points in a similar direction at the end of his disc


ussio
intersubjectivity in the fifth Cartesian Meditation. Havin d
g e alt i
the first and lowest level" of intersubjectivity or "communali
za.
lion," he says we can move on to "higher levels,"7 some of which
take on the form o f "personalities of a higher order."8 This term,
which in effect associates subjective characteristics wit h social

..

groups turns up in other Husserlian works as well (The Crisis, for


example91 and in some of his unpublished manuscripts Husserl

reveals that he takes this notion very seriously. He ascribes not only

personality but also subjectivity, consciousness, un it y of con

sciousness. faculties, character, conviction, memory, and. inter


estingly,

even

something

like

corporality"

(so etwo s wie

Leiblichkeit) to social groups. 10 He assures us that such talk is not


merely metaphorical and he opposes any attempt to reducethe social
"person" to a mere collection of individuals.

Yet Husserl. like Heidegger. gives us very little concrete analysis of


d
such phenomena, and what he says likewise remains a series
hints. As we have suggested, the problem for both may be
s
odological. When he introduces the notion of .. personal iti
ctiv
ittes
obje
higher order," Husserl speaks of them as "spiritual

..

pagination

an
pru
384 (reference Is again to the Germ6-26.
8
"Heidegger on Being a Person." Nous 16 (19 }i P/acx:ountabtY

6. Hei degger. Being and Time, p.

John Haugeland
nit
an Interpretation of Dasein as a "primordial institution" and a u
lslng. thOUgll l
which permits of being applied to groups. Haugeland's propo sal Is prom
find It hardly in accord with Heidegger's text or intentions.
7. Husserl. CartesiQll Meditations, pp. 126-29.
9. Ibid . p. t 32.

z .,-ei ll!
9. Huuerl. The Crisis, p. 188.
lct1Vil 6t.
1
10. See Husserliana, vol. XIV, Zur Phlinomenologie der lntersu b'e
Tei/, ed. I. Kem (The Kague: M. Nijhoff. 1973). pp. 2()()-04.
404.

129

from I to We

'

"11 But for him


the objective world.
(or for) the ego within its
d m t heu own
eY
w h1ch
that th
egger are so muc h he
8 d Heid
l
ser
s
tbi5 !lleu 01b Hu
. ual' s reflective self-awareness that they are
Id
1 nd1 v1d
both regard as
to the
analyt ically on what they
r
.,,o
through
oW
l
pio".e
l
f
to o
nable
nt in their
r1 ant.
for such an analysis are prese
..
illl p0
the seeds
s
s
e
I
e
1storic1ty, we
ent to what they say about h'
'
Ne vertb
mom
a
f
or
.
rn

we retu
is

believe that mtersub 1echv1ty


"'rk. If
s.Both' we recall,
d
.
e
.
.
se
se
o
th
d
is
es
h
n
at
arriv
can fi
ual subject. Husser l . for his part,.
id
v
di
m
the
d ermg
tal
1 to

t he m d1v1'd ual conesse0 on of historicity by cons 1


conce pt1
cognitive project such as science, matheengaged in 8
ss
sne
U
O
.
sCJ
ts m t he fact that t he
ty consis
itself.Historic
i
losophy
res or P h
dual takes up and
indivi
given
' a lready exists before any
0111 ' kmg
.
underta
a cogis handed down by others.Engaged m such
what
ver
0
takes
.
p
l
men
s
l
is
d'
d
ua
h
ts are
accom
1v1
h
m
e
enterprise, t
'
nitive or theo retical
by. and thus both limited by and made possible by, the

'thin
i
.. re constituteadrewco
nstituted by
5
80

dure

'

conditioned

accomplishments of others.
But this d escri ption of what we called the relay-form or predeces
sorsuccessor relation important as it is, misses something crucial

about activities like science. These are often characterized by an


intersubjeclivity which is not only successive but also simultaneous

and coop erative. They are collective endeavors in which individuals


workin teams. This means that they not only have a shared objective
but also distr ibute tasks among the individu
als who participate.The

ror analy sis of such an activity, even from the point of view of the
mdtvidual part'1c1pant,

would look different in some important respects from acti


ons as we have described them up to now.To arrive
aillec.
di!! lively and cooperatively at a given scientific result
is entirely
erent from
. .
a collect'ion o f md1v1d
.
uals
arriving
at
it
singly
who carr
. Asked
ed ut the
d
o
action in question, the individual participant
ul ha
e to answer
.. We d.1d " H ow d o we analyze such action and
how do
As we characteriz
e its temporality
. . We
?
n ote
.
ti\tJty w n d' like Husserl, Heideg
ger
presupposes intersubjeche h
turn s to his
Atitsei
analy
sis
of
histo
ricity. What he calls
n, or b
chapter
8 ing with others, had been dealt with
of ei
in an earlier
ng and y
e'I\
110n

ime.
H
ts clo
e1degger
's
treatmen
t of this phenoms
d to his
ue elll ely tie
concept o f the "worldhood of the world."
lties o
f our
world h e
argued ther e , are not primordially

11

. ff
11saerl,
Ca

rtes1a
. n

Med'Jtatio

ns, p. 132
.

130
Time, Narrativ
e'
liJsr ory
encountered as "things" or ..
0 bJocts
" ror ou
r p
tion. Tt rny are first of all th
orc0Pi l.
e equip ment
o n n
a n d Co
I nvol ved In our everyday doa
tnpte
d
lin
es of
nd Projects
O
or her persons must b e underst
!!qui
Cosiu.
.
u e
o
n th i s sa
me con ncoun terP111e111
not items of equip m ent of
cours e , b u t
te .
th ey are n
Pe... With
o f our perception either 0
ot
'
th
pp

osi ng the
&s o'""'lls
sta nd a
r o b
pro blem ol "our k no w led ge
rd
'1'
of other mi
eP ste
nds , " H
ll'l
o logi
eide er
others are encountered pri m ar
l'ttls
il
fi
f
for the m
&
os t Pa ..
"a c ross" equipment as a
fun cti
t h ro
the work
.
u.,L
world tn
.
e ngaged toge th e r . u
Wh

ond

:d

ic h

....
....

What Heidegger's treat ment th


us su gges ts,
though h
d raw out t his implication, is th
.
e d
at the interl
ocking c
oes
equipment he discusses are l i n
orn l
ked to in te rlock
c
rnpt
exes ct
i
ng o
persons w h o are engaged in ""
p ex
w mm on project s.
Collaborau\' es ct
Jectlve endeavors are ever more charact . .
e
e risttc of the
everyda orworld invoked by H eideoo
Y
oo er than th ey are
of the COgnit "'l>tt.
i\i

'ft c domain envisaged by H usser1 .


sc1enh
. the
Agam
. d'1str1.b
'lid
utio11
...1
....i
COO.namahon
of tasks. organized around the
...,
achiemen t of
a Ptod.
uc t Ol' result. ch a racte rizes action wh. ch . prope
ry sertbed
to 1
group rat her than to an in dividual or 81 me
collec h n of indi

_
als, When I say .. We built this house..
, my use of we is
in this ta.1eoci
.
...a
w e to the senes
of statements: '"I b uil t th
re1uc1
h
. e . ouse and you bi:il
... . .. e tc. 0therusesd
th t) house. and he built the hous....
r.1

i:e so ucible. When h'e go to the store. e\"en though';;SD

course. a

to-ether, at is still tr ue to say that each of us s i ngl y goes to the


But il we do the shoppi ng . again the reduction does not wQl\. pb

is done by our collaborative endeavor.


social groc)ll
Let us recall th at we are afte r a treatment w hich tutlS
colla.bonli
or
th-e
Collec
..
.
e
seriously but does so '"from the insid
t is act
subiec
n whose true
endeavo.rs gh-e us e..xamples of actio
from tht

can attest to this


individual but a group. And we
in the woz!d.bc.t
an i tem e.."\tero.al to us
outside. treating the group as
HUS$ttl of
What
of a partid pant.
from the internaJ perspoctive
:ontad
our c:4
nowl ts that much ol
Heidegger both tacitly ack
d periiaps
e1. But they do not (an
others has this cha.ract

lysis. How can we


provide us with a further ana
...
1

tex
the
J
have coa,xed from
actions. """"' ....
The e.xamples w&
.
-"
Ol'
cts
oje
pr
on
a
ted actiOl1
Heidegger are ol comm
di!Je.rentt

dy
g of this stu
that at the beginnin

eclve

u.sstrl

From I to We

131

discussion of tempora1.
a.nd throughout our
tty we
.
. I n k eep . g with
Pe
e"
tion
that proc edure. bef
m
tinc
d
h
n1ssi
ore
t is dis
r-- tsino
1 th e not'ion of common action'we sh
rnore detai
ould
.
Jllain
.08 In
cansdcfl h nat ure o f common or co11 echve experience smce we
e
.
1 ogy with
Ut t
the description of pas
sk .b<J d {u sserlia n ph enomeno
,,ssoe
}810
k
first
to
it
for
clues.
we can loo
They are to be f und
nee
calls the "first and lowest level" o f mtersserl
Hu
ie
1
at
si
1n w

rience.

?
e.'<Pere h
Y
el
s
ity.
blectiv sit uation wh'ich Husserl seeks to account for in the fifth
sic
h
1be ba.
w at Schutz later called the face-to-fac e encou ter

su

.
t1on is
Medita ndi viduals13-descnbed of course from the first-person1
n
We sh a 1 l see that with a slight shift in standbelll'ee
nt of view .

. u1 poi
from this discussion which
n

lead beyond
ar
emer g e
su its can
an
d
or
e
l

pOint. re
s1mp
straightf
ts
ward
one-toTh'
ure.
d
e
wn proc
.
l{uss erl' s o
s
rs
for
ng
unde
mean
the
tandi
tams
groups
con
y
d
unter alrea
one enco
.
as such
es from Husserl s analysis is that this encounter
emerg
arly
What cle
ves a third element, the common
ts essentially i
ri l\\'O subjec
my world, but as a consciousness
m
1s
other
world. The
surrounding
for him as well as for me. We
world
the
the world a n d
be is also for
east . then, this particular place in which we stand
share at the vary l
. The si mp lest way of summarizing Husserl's
and face each other
vity from my perspective is that I encounter
.:count of intersubjecti
. a perspective which is not my
'\()(]ter perspective on the world

no_l

tlWD-

thoory of percep ti on is at the center d


As is usual with Huss erl. the

eiYed is both a unity and a


w account . In perc e p t ion. the object perc
my own experience. these
multiplicity of ways of showing i tse lf. In
time. and they are coordi
mo-ings or profiles are spre ad out over
of standpoint in
Wed ;th my movements, my pos sibl e changes
e a common object
11 to the object. In inters ubjective experienc
er} lilewise has a
!or. in general. the com mon scene of our en count
in this case they are
plicity of ways of show ing itselt but
OVt?r there.
sb.cltaneous: I see it from here w hile you see it from
is some
spectives
kinesthetic-spatial system of changing per
t the
abou
ing
the n.onn.al percei\1?1' learns to reckon with in mov sible view
pos
IWWld. B t this familiar system includes the actual and
person l
other
a
nuntet with n
Gtotlien &1 well as one's own. In the enc
and "
them
of
$. of. course. but l am awon:
do aot ha his experience
--

Wcrld. PP. 163-61


u Schuti. lb Ph.l!ttomenology af the $Qcial

132

Time, Narrative
'o n d

H i.sto
ry
IIOW thoy nt In with my own
In re Iotlon
to
th
e s urr
porc.e I vo. 11 ioro Is a alnRlo
.
ou
system

From l to We

nd1n
of interlock
ing P
gs
111on wor Id which ostob llsh
erspec
os Itse lf In
ti
every fa
tor, and II Is a s ysh)m of whi
ce.to f Vesonthe
ch both p
ace e
articip ant
s are a
mu It l p II
. dty of actual ond possib le
ware
modes
.
givennes
1116 01 porcolvo r, this sys tom
s that
b elongs stri
Y to us . W
good 1 luHsorllon schomo. subject
"&to
e ca
- mo d es 01
give nness-o
use
the
to closcrlho this slluntlon b ut
.
b1
.
tho s ub feet
.., &i
in this cas
ven
e
not coslto b u t cogilornus.
is no t
l but
iwe,
Every foco-to-foc:o oncountor
.
scorns in
this sense
to establ
WOro I utlons I1lp and o \VOsub
.
jcct shared amo
ish
ng its parrc .
1pant s. H
sor I l nc I ood u sod tho torm Vorg
cme in sc h
UJ.
fl ung e ta
a'
( s blishment ri
community or communalization)
to descn b e suc
.
h a sit uati
on.
cttn such a minimal relationship
b e relevant to the
e xist
. ence
nttturo of socio) groups?
r..om

we

;ethe

traJlSform

mean.

characterized by this sort of "raised consciousness." In these cases


belonged to their groups, objectively speaking, all along,

are aware <i

members

and were not unaware of it either. But now they perceive that it is as a
group t hat they are oppressed or threatened or under attack. The

external threat or opposition becomes the common object of a com

mon experience. These in tum refer back and "belong" to a common

a cldnt, which suddi)nl)' forces their attention to a single

Yorn

being oppressed. Racial and linguistic minority groups, and women,


in the rec ent history of some western countries. have been similarly

l'othor In do ing so, dous constitute a common experie


nce. But an
ohjo t or O\'Cnt whi h bccomos the focus of attention for se\'tll!
Jl< rs on s can change thoir attitude toward each other. The pedestrians
Oil a mwdt>d st"'"' h ard ly considor themselves a group. But a tnffic

focus.
"'''"'-l'. lht-m Into a group which the members recogniie as such. \"ell
if thciy do not rush to offrr assistance, individuals begin sto
o.ne tmolht r. C<'lm pa ri ng their impressions and spec ulati ng abo:.il the
ri,slns 1tnd further .-ff ts of the accident. Their cxistenO? as a Sta:fl
Ol;\)' be furtht'r prolonst-d. of course. if they become 1-ally in\
H witnc.sst' B\at that is le important for our purposes th&:! !ht
St'l\se of part ic ipa tion that indhiduals attach to the
unitt'd by
St'\"ttors at a thNtre or sports ewnt are similarly
'l\\m)tl Sl)( tt Ir to which tht?y am witness..
what i5
It tnust bi stn..:St'd. of
un.--e, that for our pur

lho at t itud e ol th" m t'm rs ol th group toward-

nd
'' td eiach otht'r ns its mt-mbt-rs.. Co.llections ol indi

.. 'l\ r"''<l in any num.r ol \ '"'S bv an e


their c;!t
"hlr-h n
not im"Ol\"e th;ir u ess of
l'b pc...Ut'tri.41\S an a shn strttt at rtiin tilue uu! :pJl!!I!"
_ _ .,,.. bl:
,
Sl\ .a. 1t.U fpositOl'S at a partlL

It Is true that foco-to-face encounter


s can b fleet 1ng
. and
lnglllss. Obviously a groat dual will
turn on he c h aract
er of the
.
common ou
'Joct or ob 1oc ts which play so crucial a role in t h is scheme.
Slml)1 sh1trlng tho snmo space provided
the part1es

Od

Bui
and

u11known

Coun.

133

se who are considered security risks by some


d a11 tho
fact of belonging to a group may be
111 0rphs. an
par tment. The
ment de
membe
ete
m d'ff
1 erence to its
rs . We are
govern
atter of comp
r m
exist
for
the
individuals
o 8
that
involved who
ps
u
gro
., . g he re of
1
The pedestrians on the street are
thin,. 0 h mselves members.
t e
r
d
e
cons1
former to the l alter sort by the intrusion of
d fro m the
For the latter, let us use the term community
ces.
cumstan
eX{ernal c1r
are relevant to larger contexts if we suffiions
rmat
.
such t r ansfo
n
of common expenence. Groups united by
notio
tend our
ex
ClentlY
to a common territory may be
.
r geograph'1cal hes
. but thei
nothing
terntory
't
f
th

en
1s mva de d or threati
y
commum
med into a
.
iransfor
.
beco es the
outsi de. What a mere lY a fctua l 1tuahon
ened from
. of something new. S1m1larly, Marxists beheve that the existence
basis
' h 1s an o b' echve

fact m capitalist
hic
f cl asses,

and p position o
class
consciousness
mto
d
the
when
indi
transforme
society. can be
group
a
to
which
belong
is
do
in
they
united
that
viduals perceive

subject: -e.

In characterizing certain social groups in this way we are not here


ng a simple, straightforward claim that group-subjects objec
ti)' exi st . We are saying that individuals, in their seMe of and use

rl """',- certainly take them to exist and that their taking them to

'

se
=a
. w1th
:;1
.

makes it so. In saying '"we, .. the individual identifies


the gr oup and thus. in a Husserlian sense of the word.
1tutes the group
as comprising those who similarly, in the
'a!lt context sa y .., .
... .

"'
"

on tha all this requires an extension of_ our not.ion al

ts Precisely the notion ol a common subject th.at corre

to extensio n. An individual will

he
.

e\"ents, sufiered this or

say that we'"

experi

that humiliation or out1'ag'e.


S'OCh
an d sign.i6c.ant1y for our purposes. the we with

or she as an individual had no

the indi\'iduaJ identifies can

both md

134

Time, Narra tive , and


History

survive the individuals that make it up. Th


e
latio11
individuals involved may be the relayitnong
form 0
successors invoked by Husserl and Heide
Predecessors .the
gger' but
all ide

llld
h a we w h1. ch persis
n1
se 1ves wit
ts as a subject
fy theni.,
throughou
t.
This already suggests that the temporality
of
up . t
fers significantly from what we treated unde
s ence
r th
ea d
in
g of <licity, and this w i l l have i mportan t
consequen
.
.
ces f
.
o f h"1stonca 1 time. Before we
un derstan dmg
take up this por
thto ic. IJlll1I.
ever, we need to turn from com mon experien
ce back t
0
common action with which we started .
We turned to common experience partly to
demonstrate that and
.
.
how the we-sub1ect
can exist
even there; for its
inVOI\'etnent. Ill
.
.
co 11 ective action is m some ways more obvious
. We have .!.....;..
touched on some of the main featu s of such
action. Inste:d'

;
.
common ob1ect we have a comm on obiective or result be achieved,
to
The comm on projec t is "artic ulated " into sub-tasks d
istributed
among the participants, such that the proper agent cannot

Llll

e thellle d

be anyd

the members singly but only the group as such.


Again what is crucial is that members identify with the group m
attitude and action. It is they. by their participation, who create and

sustain the we-subject. At the same time this subject transcends their

. O ship Thus the latter is not at the mercy of its


.
.
.
we-lalJO
at the same lime it receives no support
. ht say: but
we m18

o1>;ec' as. . and is depe ndent on its own mterna I cohes1veness for
e
t
sid
u
o
f!OID
stence.
ned exi
5ustai
15
which common experience and common action
.
'
in
Y
r wa
and produce the other. In the
Ano!he
the one may in fluence
ed i.s th8t
are relat
experience of threat or
common
the
ups created by
se
of
se
ted may then act to defend itself; the
ca
p thus constitu
t
cfangef .o gro removal of the external threat becomes the common
ih ati
o
n rrd which all efforts are collectively bent . In the other
ann l
ob
:.t.r 1ve towa
on of common action creates the
.
l"
bviously the prosecuti
eir
bY th

difeC!IOn .

prospect. of acting as a group.


It must be pointed out . too, that the existence of an outside force

opposed to a particular group is not sufficient to transform it into a

tion. This is

or even the infinitely distant future


.
acti.on to each
.
e and common
We can relate common experienc
n!!ljed
r
.
.
um'ty of a common
other in several ways . The intersu b1ective
ne.'(pl'rirt
of
is both more concrete and more fragile than that 8
at the
ence. The spectators at a footbal l game or
fi
on objtd
by their co
ed
tbe
us
f
the victims of an attack or t hreal, are
hemselVVS fct
t
of
ntly
but they take the object to exist independe
l no their r.
barnra 51 O'
as
h
.
sue
,
1 Rt
pro)ect
n
partici pants in a commo
. .
8
r)' acti'1 >' b
ato
ip
c
i
piu:
caJleO
mon objective is literal ly created by their
seerns
"id
nshP
I
tio
we-re a
the
spectators and observe rs. their
r
fo
.
b"ect
and sustained in being by an i nde ende
h and sust

fort
e
l
is
ob1ect
pants in a common endeavor, the

conun;de.nl.

: J

pi'

common situation they all face. But such a group can exist without
collective action resulting: oppressed communities may be perfectly
uni ted, but only in their suffering, with no prospect, or no pert:eived

join in a group united by a project already underway. as in -\


example of the continuity of science. In this case the we suf\'1\"e$
P .
succeeds the individua l as well; indeed in one sense the accom
finite
inde
the
.
in
.
lies
.
.
( .the fu 11 t ruth")
ment of its common o b1ect1ve

hat
.
on experience. In a general way we can say t.
occasion for comm
.
.
su
con
b
ffi
not
d"
for
ut
c1ent
1hon
necessary
a
is
nce
c;olJ)JIIOD experie
action
to
e
occur.
group
a
must
collectiv
for
order
common action: in
as such and are aware of a
r.-Ost whose members recognize each other

com

8;

individual existences; it is "we" who accomplish the action. sa}' lhf

individual, even though his contribution is small and other contribu


tions are not even known to him in detail . And the individual llliJ

135

from I to We

mu nity. It may have the opposite effect, whether by design or


of separating the individuals in the group from each othe.r and
pre\-enting their reciprocal consciousness of the unity of their situa
DOI,

a point made by J. P. Sartre in


his analysis of the
eme ence of gro
ups from what he calls their "seriality." It is a good
st point, in
keeping with Sartre's stated allegiance. The capttal1st system
0f prod uchon.
.
.
.
accord mg
workers not
to Marx. alienates
onJ from the produc
th
t of their labor but also from each other and
G t n gs
tu
wesen. Accordin g to the Marxist concept of " ide
h
e
urt rrnore, religion and many of the other trappin
gs of
have the
functi
on
of
distracti
ng the gaze of the proletariat
from he .
t ir ac tua l
and common p l 1g
' h t. Sartre extends the pomt to the
lllechanis
m of
.
.
berep
. resentahon
.
.
m parhamen
many
tary systems. L1ke
su.
he
heve
s that elective representation produces a false
nse
of Par . _
tic 1p at on
rtliled
'
and leaves the electors systematical ly seand
f
re
tlnong thern.uwa
the possibilities for community that exist
e parliame
llstru rn
ntary system is in this view a perfect
ent f
or an eco
.
!?IdU t i
nom
1c
system whose interest is ser\led when
s r al w
orkers
in d iffere nt segment
s of society (and even in

01;.

SOcie;y

Time, Narrative, and History

136

recognize their fate as 8


differen t countries) do not
hared one
4
1
.
nt
e
n
o
to a common opp
what constitute
But Sartre's requ irements for
e u
lne tralll!4
too strict. He t:k:: n the
ably
argu
are
lity
!Jarad
81
dence of seria
the Bast ille on July 14 176
calls It "lie
case the sto rm ing of
s in the grou p-in-fus o
d issol uti on of the serie
group, hi Ith
s, whic h had been d e
1 .e' only frOll!
.0
case "the city,. of Pari
actions of King and m1 1t1a agai rm It.
outs i d e as a group by the .
.
.
.
.
nc.
.
ri
synthetic unity m itself and is fused In one action.
finds its
.
Cf
far i'fngs
.
group
a
ary
ution
at
l
ll
revol
ro
ar
re
1
s1m1

n
d
Sartre, th is a
.
..r by t1it

us mobs; they are co dit'IOOc:u,


random actions of amorpho
struc
to
be
them,
to
ng
t ured and
mstance s leadi
,
cornb 1. ed circu
they
eu
l
e t of thei goaJ . t& Nevert e
effi c1 ous in the atta inm
to dissolve in their tum into a new
fragi le and momentary, dest med
.
to be either serial in character.
seem
Sartre, gro u ps
t:'
senaI 1' ty. ror
es only, or fusions of such intima
unified by external circumstanc
obli:er
ty of their members is all bot
character that the ind ivid uali
rd 1i
is
what
s are " swept up" into
ated. In such cases ind ivid ual
(and
is the case in other
much a we as a collective I. As
be lw
wond ers
phases) of Sartre's phi losophy, one
kes the
Though he often invo
posed too sharp an alternative.
very
with
t
effec
in
of dialectic, h e i s presenting u s here
ii
o " of a grrJllP
whether the " fusi
tad
dialectical either..ar. We must ask
in
e
possibl
and action is not
community in common experience
duality rJ i!S
ivi
ind
literate the
ob
n
tha
her
ve
rat
ser
y
pre
to
as
8 wa
partici pants.
conJtituDoa
ussion of
disc
our
by
r
ove
left
e
Another loos end
on
id
communitie s is the possi bility that comm
to confi
can lead
not lead to common action but in fact
than
ict no l ss
le !!JP'
opposition . It cou l d be said that confl
exainP
an
To ta1e
.
, presupposes common experience.
act ion
ioad ._
by Sartre. th.at of famine, the common object,
aware
reciprocal
food supply, establishes a very clear we of
c:J . fjJ.
. But
who are the contenders for th is short supply
we aitJ'
it.
rf
ig ourselve s cooperatively for purposes of sha
IJ "3rn
truggle
s
hke dogs over what little there i1.11 This sort of

c:a

" and

0fi /'
n

aspects
whether
a
n

the
experience ca

e
which is the
instead
ng

14. J. P.
-

s.iltre, Crlllque de lo rolwn dlolectlque. Tome

15. Ibid., p. 39 1 .
19. Ibid p. 393.
1 7. Ibid.. p. 38.

I ff*lll:

c;.I ,-

131
We
Fro m I to
e 's tenn "se
gested by Sa rtr
hat is 1 u g
w
enda
n
a
h
ate t
pursui ng &eparate
JJlot
s j d e, ea ch
i n U.
by
e
d
i
ore
s
, st
m
to-face encou ntet
Jllllch
ked in a face..i are Jl
loc
JU
are
e
v
er we
nce.
litY: '
h oth
o m m on experie
fla
to eac
d
w
cal led a c
te
nst i tu tion of a
, n ly be
u1a
co
describe the
.
c;erta
to
pt
n
ca
em
actio n, two
r att
. .
,.-ti ich
c and common
t I ll ou
,
B tha
n ex pen en e
mo
com
.
answered befo re we
It JTIo re1at1 on to
w hich must be
en

1
aris

..A
have

.
tions
,ub 1
porality of su c h groups
t que
d escri pt ion of the tem
com
interrel a ed
the
to
ler
a ul
of conflict rela ted
ex peri en ce
a wwy of
co m mon
00 o
he
c.an go oW
t
ty1 Seco nd , is theTe
IS
c
.om m u m
e
n
first b
ui
,
. d u a I1 in a co m m un i ty 111ch
ce of a gen
vi
'
eicpen en
i fferen t md1
d
I':\-
--'
of
n
o
ni
u
d i n a s i ngJ e tu b'J,
the
ge
g
mer
n
.
not su b
nces are
desGl.b.i
iste
ex
grau infus1on
i ndi vi dual
ot denying that
n
tbat
are
We
?
d
into a
reserve
can be SW'ept up
mehOW p
bu
t indi viduals
tha
ce,
sten
are
p
exi
B ut such gro'll t
dot me into
become a5 one.
all
ich
wh
n in
eTOUI, and their
common act io
tional and dang
ns often irra

actio
their
ephemeral,
ory. How d o we di
ies probably illus
munit
com
d
i
ne
ng to
status as genu
we have been seeki
omen a from what
I, but i.
e
tinguih such phen
rl
a large
that is not merely
ine d
Kribe. a group subject
poral un ity su$1a
ca n pers i st as a tem
1
ye
d
an
ral
ly
plu
e
in
u
gen
from wit in by its mem bers?
before us the
because they bring
These questions are re lated i f o n l y
a plu rali ty al
t can obta in among
... .. possib le rel atio nsh ips tha
n differen
extreme to total, u
1 ividuals, from all- 0ut confl ict at one
of
cal concept
..d union at the other. In crit iciz ing the epl.stemologi
not
for
s ch apter,
?ermandental" subj ect , in the first part o( thi
to the soc ial
ate
ttmg the d i versi t y- w i t h i n - u n i ty app rop ri
i t1. Jn
o rld w
i t h e Ger ma n id eal .s
e recal l e d He gel 's cri tici sm o
th the
WJ
.
to be faced
1 notion of the
group-in-fus ion we seem
ub
IOcial
-ncept, not a p l uraJ 5 jec.
l a lent oi that epistemologica l co
tivtty,
er level.
t e re prod uct ion of sin gula r su bject1vit y at a h i gh
blem al
Onq again we
because the pw
. are pu t in m i n d of Hege l,
SOclal un
ity- th . -div e rsi ty, and of its con nection with conflict and
m
6PP<>sillon
nd that
s one of the c h ief motivating conc:ena behi
PhilOsop
hr s worlc
.
fn ao
me
,
well -It n wn page5 of h i s Phe nom enology of Spirit Hegel

_
desert
a
8l9ts us
a ise. NoC
on of how a gen uine comm unity might "r
only d
ae, he re. Ph
flict; he
con
osite.
1 ate uch a
n&&es
com mu nit y to it s opp

b
ri
.
menU
ele
It
out of con fli ct and preserves certai n
prove
i tself. A bri ef exa min a1io n of these pages wi l l
Pful for
us fo seve-r
al reason s.

aion
their
'

::

te

Sa

that
heflict Withi

138

Tim e , Nar
rative a
n d 11ist
ory
The pa ss ag e i n qu
es ti' on m ark
.
. s th e
of its tru e su bj
first ap
.
ec t: Ge i s t or
Peara
. .
sp mt.' a n H
n. cefi i
d egel .
sp m t, d escribes
n lie
it in terms f
&els
.
1n his
am1
i,.,_,
.
har to us:
r
I . "18 Th is
st te
' si gn al s a co
"a n I th
fere
ncern for
at i. s
""Ill
the
We, \\I nee
to
firs t pers
on ly su bs tan tiv e
a e
on l
bu t als o meth
h
P u ral Whi aqs
odol ogica l H
!
str uc t us on ho w to
. ege '
ch 11
move beyo nd
s a
.
th e sing
of Hu sse rli an ph en
rn
ula
can ot
r eth
om en olo gy b
e iploy
olo
g
ic
ing
e
ll1
a
n:
kn
a
ow
n a n d co nf us ing h

Proce u
.is onc a l
Wh ich, by
coi nci de
c1s ely : phe nom eno logy.
n ce 1
a
Furth
r as e
a ll ed Pre.
s p i ritual subject or comm
sai d, Heg l
uni
g t arise;
. el s us hoWa
that is he
sto ry, a " l i kel y sto ry "
i
s tellin
not about part"
.
g us a
icu Iar h i st
app hc abl e as a con cep
o
.
ri
c
al e
tua l des c 1 p t io
' n t ma ny
nts but
h
v

of t ern .

ow n acc oun t i s a kin d of


narrat 1ve. B ut 1t
us HegeJ
al so descri
s
bes, as
see , a process that has an inte
We shaIl
rna lly narrati. ve
character,
.
not only f
H ege I w h o tell s it to us but for
the .. ha acters"
of
his
"story.
sho rt, Heg el's acco unt tells us
someth g m ort
ant about the rela.
tion betw een time and narrative
at th e soc ia l level,
and is thus
capa ble of casti ng light on history.

from I to We

innovative procedure , is not


8 part of Descartes's
.
m uch
d improve d.
1, 6p1ic1s '
s correcte d an
.
s
h rejected a
on-singular standpoint Hegel is
first-pers
the
ass
c
p
u
sur
O
l
.
s !t
to
nunS
g, not rejecting, the modern tradition
In wa
uch co ntinuin
0 verY m
of cours .
his modern forerunners wanted to do. But for
t what
.
JUS
iS
t
bn'd ge th e gap between consciousness and
for tha
b)e m was to
the
el was enough a follower of Kant to believe
tbe!tl
worl d. Heg
t
r ad solved or dissolved that problem. But Kant left
the ex :
te h
h
t
transcending the I, not toward the
that
real prob lem of
d the
toward the illusory Universal Sub
uns olv
matter
for that
orld. or
rn
te
a
this is not just a philosophical
Hegel
e
I. For
ward the other
ject, bu t
al, a historical, and a religious problem all
social, 8 politic
.
.
.
but also 8
h e 1sol ation o f egos m mo dern philosophy
t
at
h
t
believed
at once.. he
n of persons from each other in real life, a
ction of isolatio
was 8 refle
of society and a loss or lack of community.
1ragmentation
not ignore the relation between the self and the external
. Ill so

P:roach
!:

;:

;p

Hegel does

with it, but precisely in order to show how it is taken


only to reveal itself as a false problem when the
for a real problem
One way of describing
genuine problem of transcendence appears.
pecu l iar itinerary of the Phenomenology is that it is the descrip
world. He deals

the
those
tion of a series of mistakes and of the subsequent unmasking of
experi
from
a
we
learning
call
mistakes
our
mistakes. Le rning from

3 . Hege l 's Dialec tic of Recogn ition


Hegel's account of the " independence a n d dependence of self
consciousness" i s too well known and too much commented on to

require a detailed exposition here. It is best for our purposes. in any


case, to try to extract the essentials of the a ccount in our own terms.
notori
not attemptin g to accommo date ourselves too much to Hegel's
being
of
k
ri
ously difficu lt langua ge . Thus the following runs the s
ll
overa
n
a
by
ed
i mpression istic, perso nalize d, and perhaps slant
f
fal
the
n
bee
such has
framework whic h is not Hege l's but ours. But
have
we
ght: at least
of Heg el's extr aord inar ily fecu nd train of thou
th
oi
expl ted it in is Y
the exc use that we are not the fi rst to have
that is. n
on
i
t
c
u
. the I n trod
hereby.
Hege l begi ns the Phen omen ology (m
arl i.'er w
we s poke of e
. 1e He
shift
the
of
critique
a
with
...
the Preface)
taph Y51""'
gy preced es me
we have
h
i n mode rn philosophy, epist emol o
'
IC
'nt 0f Wh
poi
d
ut 10
stan
ar
don b
atta cks just that first -per son- sing
. ul.
not to aban
r: ven
y
l
r
. mte
1
ea
c
.
nt10 n is
o t it . i:.
alre ady spok en. B u t his
h'ins ab u
.
t
r
y
eve
.
g1vmg u p
surp ass that stan dpoi nt, with out
G. W. F. Heg el. Phen ome nology
. . pp. 46-57 .
Ibid
19.

18.

of Spiri!.

P 1 lO.

139

ence--which is exactly how Hegel uses the term Erfahrung: phe

nomenology is "the science of the experience of consciousness"

(Hegel's subt it le) in just this sense.


The external world at issue is an object not only of perception and
knowledge bu t also of our desires and needs.20 We need nature in
or er t survi ve . Desire is the practical side of consciousness; its
ob1ect is at a distance, but in this case a distance which is to be
verco e not by knowledge but by possession and consumption.

1 ccording to Hegel we are engaged in a kind of struggle wit h nature .


or cognitive an
d t ec h no 1 og1cal
mastery, both to know it and to make
.
it ser e
v our nee ds. But the real issue in this struggle is ourselves and
.
our ow n
lives 10
t he process we learn what we are capable of and
what we need
the world. The real issues are finally self
to survi ve m
know
1'ra ledge, self-p
reservation, and self-mastery.
nscendence
toward nature thus reflects back upon the self. The
. h
struooJ
0() e wit
natu
re turns out to be about something other than what
it see
rned t0 be
abo ut. Not that this struggle is illusory, or that it ever

-20. Ibid

" p p. 105-110.

140

Time,

Narrative a nd Lr
'
n 1sto,...
reaIIy end s. But even
r
,
wh
ere
it is more
.
or less sa
IS th e self (Hegel call
ti. sfac
s it self-cons .
tor11
c1ousnes
s) Whic
The sel f asserts its abi lity to
h is ity l'esol\'ed
stand 0n its

own; its S
o
inde pen den ce.2 1
elbsts utcolllt
Ondi
&keit '
Hegel may be suggesting
ot
that the seIf
Certa1. nt
ness of
odem thought is a
Y
an
d
se
.
fun

ction of the
lf-cen
possession of nature" env
increased "
isaged by 0
rnas t
esc
.
lndery

artes an
growth of science and technology
d realiz
.
ed
But the s1t
.
the
in
'
uat
i
on is de
w h en one of the se confident
stab'i
selves encou
'led
nters anoth
t he other may seem just a
er one
part of the s
li0 rne
urroundi n
g
master to serve my own needs
.
world I tnu
and mainta.
st
m my independen
trouble begins if he takes the same
ce. But
view
to
war
d
me. The .
.
eac h of us as an mdependent or
existence
rJ
self-stand ' g se .
If is chaII
m
enged by
t he othe r. We are caught up in the
struggle over th .
e tndepend
and dependence of self-consciousness
ence
.
our
As
last sentence indicates, Hegel is
now desenbtng
.
. .
.
a s1tuar100
m w h ic
" h it 1s appropriate to use the we of
.
common ex ene
.
nce. F.ach
p
.
.
.
of the parti es to the situa tion is aware of the
existence of the oth .
.
er1n
.
rel ahon to a thir element, the common su
rrounding world which
_ relation
define s their
to each other. But their common experience
is
an unstable one; it is a problem crying out for a solution . The ensuing
pages of the Phenomenology describe various false conceptions d
how to solve this problem, which derive from mistaken conceptions

of what the struggle is really about . But Hegel seeks to render these

m istakes understandable and suggests that they must be made before


the real outcome, and the real point of the struggle, can be revealed. U
ble it must
the "I that is We" of a genuine community is possi
d scri . It
someh ow incorporate in itself the false solutions

by its mitak
must be the outco me of an experience that learns
'
experience (his fa
Before we examine Hegel s account of that
-
eed to w.
enslavement) e n
dram a of life-a nd-d eath struggle and
w
Phe

0f the
rs to rad ers
que stio n of t h e sort that often occu
seems
He
t7
u
bo
HegeI talking a

IY is
.
<i
nom enology: just wha t, concrete.
tron8 sense
s
a
.
with
ls
ua
d
ivi
d'
m
ng
amo
thro Ugh
to env isag e a con flict
s ggle
h0 tru
independence, w
own
ir
the
ctiara''
of
s
and
lve
mse
the
we. But such !W
munity: a
com
s.
true
a
dult
blish
esta
lly
unti l they fina
lc rly a dtbe
.
nts-are c a
serva
s
11
Y
iou
b
e
nil
re
,
nunu
ters--warriors, masters
. .
origi nal co
erienced the
exp
ady
alre
not
m
of
h
the
eac
,

Hcel

2 1 . Ibid

pp. 109-1 10.

from I to We

141

vidual . is it not the case that the familial


. fe of the indi
the h
else?
iJy? Jn
rything
faJ1I reced es eve
an answer to these questions in chapter IV
vide
not ro
aael does
!

from what he says elsewhere22 it is clear


b
.
menoP1 ogy. ut
n"
.
1

" the phen . ers the family someth ing ess t han a genuine comsid
con
a crucial dialectical role in the life of both
tbat be
ugh it has

ven tho .

The family 1s a natura I . not a soc1a 1, grouping,


IllUnilY e 1
d soc1ety
d
indivi ua a t he individual is too dependent on the family, his
a d as a chi ! d
erged in it to permit him any genuine indi
n
mu h subm
too
identit!
y is too much like the Universal Subject. or a
us he famil
viduahty. Th
.
to suit Hegel: it is the obliteration rather
. group-i n-fus'ion
Sartrian
of individ uals. In the case of the child, of
articipation
than the p
speak of the obliteration of individuali ty, since it
.
cannot
course we
There is evidence, too, that Hegel considers
t developed.
o
n
bas
l is the model for what he calls Ethical Substance, to be
the Gree po '
t:'
aII h'1s
to be a genume commum'ty. cor
h like a family
too
kind
a
of
as
it
childhood
represents
he
city,
ancient
adm1ra on of the
.

it, as d so
. If he occas1ona ll y rom nt1c1zes
state of Western history
same hme
recogmzes
the
at
probably
he
,
aries
many of his contempor
feel
lost
we
for
childhood.
nostalgia
of
kind
that he is expressing the
This nostalgia is paradoxical, because most of us would not volun

tarily return to childhood again even if we could. We long for its

security but want to retain our independence as adults. Such longing

may gain the upper hand (and have tragic consequences) if we allow

ourselves to be swept up in a putative volonte generale. The result


can be a Terror in which we lose not only our independence but also
our heads.

Independence comes not within the family but by breaking out of


it. There is a prototype
of the master-slave struggle, even the struggle
to-the-death if
Freud is right, between the child-adolescent and his
or er paren
ts. This familial conflict, like the struggles Hegel de
s bes, is
ultim ately over mutual recognition , but it can never

ac ' eve this goal, since the difference of generations and the parent

ch1ld relati
on can never be overcome The one thing parents cannot
ve
.
.
ch ildre
:
n (or children parents, for that matter) is recognition as
depende
nt and seIf
-suffic1ent persons . If we seek that, as aII of us
do We
rnust look
elsewhere .

--

ct!!ndon
Ibid.,Press

p. 268 s ee l
a so Hegel'a Philosophy of Mind, tr. W. Wallace (Oxford:
19
711. pp. 2556.
.

142

Time . Narra tive a


' n d lll
l.J S!o
ty
Hegel is thus affirm ing what w
as
1
atcr asse
. .
.
rted b
Strauss m oppos1taon to some of his f
y Cl
eIIow anth
aud
opologist . e
t hat the fun damental social unit is not
t
.
the farn1l
8 1'1a
.
y but t
l
esta bl'1s he d betwecn members of
that is
he tela llely
I eren
d"ff
t
t
o
.
t
farn11 .
M '
t hat nature 1s trans formed into cultu
te8 23 1 . ..n i p
. t lab
re. If th1a
.
l
v ew Is c
wou Id count against what seems to be H
orrectit
e1dfa
egge
i it
. r8 tend e
ncy to
the succession of generations within the
y as foundau0"8ard
paradigmatic for historicity Hegel differ
rntl
.
s fro
llal Or
m the a
nthro p
of course, because what counts for him .
oJn
iaSb
10
61
the estab

'
tshrn

soc1ety 1s
e but the confro
not mterm
arnag
e
.
nt
ntahon of s

.
e
I
f

conac

m d1vi'dua ls over t he issue


of dependence and .
d:nde c 1ou,
n e. 1n
one case n ew families are established; in the
the
e
. .
all &oea
comm um hes. It must be said too that typi
we
u
ca11 Y Hegel l'e&a
'
'
rds the'
mtra-fa m1ly relat i on as aufgehoben, not simpl
y abandon
.
.
ed In 8
ume ex tra- fam1 1ia
l socia l relations certain aspec
en.
ts of famiJy
.
.
l'f
1 e lit
.
preserved: certainly its contentiousness an d an
imosit , but
. .
1

y
.
agam 1 f all goes well, the capacity for a harmoniou
s bond.
. c lear, as Hege I's celebrated "story" gets underway
Alas, 1t 1s
u that
'
all goes well only rarely-and when it does not the
resu1ts can be
murderous. What may first occur to the individuals whose
indepen.
dence and self-sufficiency are challenged by each other is to
elimi

nate the challenger. But what the latter challenges Is not mere! the
fact but the legitimacy of my independence. If I eliminate him

is no one left to acknowledge that legitimacy. Recogni tion, not vie.

tory, turns out to have been the real point of the struggle. U I win !get

only existence, not the acknowledged right to exist; if I lose, cl

course, I get neither.

Faced with these prospects, enslavement may seem an attractive

alternative for both parties . The loser at least keeps h is life, while the
winner gains not only independence but recognition as well. It iJ to
cted
be recalled, too, that the original struggle was over the unrestri
use of nature to satisfy our needs. The servant's acknowledgment 1'
forced to
his master's domination is expressed in the labor he is
perform for him.

and WI
But this relationship turns out likewise to be unstable
at first
satisfying, again because the point of it is other than it
his reoJ
The master may wonder if he is truly legitimi zed since

5ee;

23. C. Levl-Strauu, Structural Anthropology, Ir. C.


(Garden C1ty: Doubleday Ir Co . 196n pp. 48-4 9.
24. Hegel. Phenomenology af Spirit. pp. 1 1 1-19.

Jacobson

d S C.

111

143

Fro m I to We

to a mere extension
now been reduced
wh has
e
n
o
and feels this reduc0 n t thou gh he suffers
fro rn fh serva
e
if only because he concOrneS i l l
.
self-con scio us,
.., w
Uon. oW
em ai ns
r
is he
es
l
may dawn on him as well that lt
. vcrthe
of b8 oe
e. A nd it
f
i
s
tJoll fears for bi I ns forms nature for the satisfaction of human
.
tra
st'11tlY rkJ on an d
exercised power over nature
this actu ally
of
wo
.
se
.
.
en
gs
n that this power cou I d be
"110 A growi n
min d a susp 1c1o
t's
an
.
eed s.
.
e serv
mcreasmg ly super fl uous to
in th
who now appears
raise
er,
mast
11
tJJ3Y
be 11ion .
t he
ge is set for a re
d on
s . The sta
t e
ces
ties to Hegel's amazing ly compressed
urnwhole pro
b
m ore subtle
Y
t e
an
e are
a re 111
been able to incl ude here. But thes
'fhere
an we have
th
o
,
tlc
but
h
l
sc
ema
e
b
a
by som e to
tat
hat i s thou ght
presen
f
ls
sentia
ened , and inde ed is still
0
most of wha t has happ
the es
u t
acc
eath

dynarni
of hum an relations. The life-and-d
h histo ry
i
8
tn
smal l wars and on the streets of
bappen
.
in our large and
.
.
con tin ues
ggle
to Hege1 ,
'
d
strU
d by omm aho n, accord mg
. Where it is rep lace
. l5
crl
s.
In insti tu our
and d iffere nt s uper vene
genui n ely new
g
m
eth
som
t'ion , or bot h, is the

eco nom ic dom ma


. d form pol itic al or
. a1 ize
tron
d
present. But t hese
an
nts, past
most socia l arrangeme
strUcture Of
inhe rent ly unst able , whe ther they ever actu ally
arrangements are
do, they can revert to the pattern of death
lode or not. When they
into their own cycle of domin ation
destruction or they can fall
and counter-dom ina tion .
t can hap
On the other hand, someth ing again genuine ly differen
pen if there occurs what had actually been the point of the whole

: :

struggle: the mutual recognition of the parties to the conflict, the


acknowledgment by each of the other's right to exist and to enjoy the
fruits of their labor. Each sought this recognition from the other all

along, but failed to realize that it had to be mutual, that recognition


had to come from one who himself was granted the legitimate status

of an idepcndent existence. Instead of disputing their territory or


loi. ting each other for its use, the parties now cooperate in its
10Yment . The details of how this cooperation is to be worked out
are 1ess imp
ortant to H egel than the reciprocal respect which lies at
Its ba an
d rende rs it possible. Mutual recognition is far from a
&Uara e
of the perma nence
can s
of the community it founds. Indeed, we
.
hat an
8 very importan t sense
such a community contains
the seeds
of Its
o wn
pos1"bl e d estruction . These are precisely the selfConsci o
u s,
If_ asse rtive,
independent-mi nded individual s who
rnake It
up.
tho ut them it
t
chil dre
would not be a genuine community. Li ke
n the d
oci l e an d self-eff
acing, or the merely stubborn and

s;

Time, Narra tive, a


nd His t
petulan t, do not qualify: at most th ey w
ill rty
h onal
ize a
status by the ideologies of stoic ism' s k
ep h cis
sub
.
n-.
"' or
' ' d ual s Hegel
Consc1ousn ess. Th e .md 1v1
th ""!'Vie
.
has tn
e
lll ind
, Wh
mande d their independence all along.
rnay be .
o ha 1
capacity of the community to assure i' t Pr . 11l lPatie "'' t Ve
ec1s et

wi
Y such ind t.h t
have the capacity to tear it apart.
ivid
lla
Yet only the community really is capabl
e of ass
u
r
n
i

ecome
even
g
more paradoxical
s
d 1a lect1c b
ii. Jie
than us
ual.
Withou
pendent individuals there can be no genui
tindthe
ne conun .
.
un ity; Yet . e.
out a community there can be no ge n .
u1 nely
ll'ith.
.
i nd'1v1' d ua ls. A n d the reason for t his is that gen . . in dePende
nt
u1n
.
e
d
tn ePe
.
ndenc
. leg1' t1m1ze
'
d an d recognized by
t hat w h ic h 1s
e 11
o
t
h
ers
.
wh ar
.
e equall
independent. Outside the communi ty, or in
y
hrea k'ing 0
away fro
individuals can only be independe nt-rni nde d
m il
c n onl
y dernand
independence. Only the community can give it o e
m.
This doctrine of the correlation of independen
ce and corn
.
mulllt. y
explains for us why Hegel presents his views in the w
he doe
s.
.
gives us what are essentia lly the three main kinds
re1ahons
.
.
.
that
can ex1st among m d epen d ent-mm ded or self-consci'ouS
tn d'lVtd
. uals;
struggle to the death, dommahon, and community But
theltl is. a

ertain order aong he . All-out conflict is the most direct and


.
1mmed1ate way m which independence is pursued. Domination
ID
swers to the real motives of the conflict (a life of recognized indepen
dence) better than the conflict itself, and so represents an advance.
But community secures recognized independence for all. not just for
some, thereby making the recognition genuine, so it in tum sill'
passes domination.
144

lJ llhap

0tY

This three-step progression by no means imposes any temporal

order on events. Any of the stages can persist indefinitely, and one

may degenerate to a "previous" stage rather than progre s. But Hegel


wants to provide the means for dist inguishing qualitati ve social
change from a mere sequence of events, and hi s notion of a P
ns and
gression simply postulates the genuine end of social relatio
s
see
y
seeks to distinguish what serves that end from what onl
thi
ts.
serve it. As for mapping his story onto histori cal even
aD .
enoJo
always tentative . In view of other parts of the Phenom
e
uin
Hegel's philosophy. it is likely Hegel believed th at gen

f
w
.
a
w
munity was possible , if at all, only in the mode rn wor
oted
0
we
d'
As
10
iv1 d ual had asserted his demand for ind ep end en ce.
t il
hood bu
d
l
.
hi
.
c
t
os
before, we may long for
a
' t u111J
the ancient city as for 1
mmun y
represents only
the abstract idea, not the real .ity of co

From I to We

145

of genuinely independent individuco m po sed


ot be
n
d
coll l
11d
pot 8
in readi ng Hegel's text exclusively in this
danger

s
S
y saying something important
al
there i 8
was undoubtedl .
.
aut
y J-{e
wa
lly the future of his own (our
especia
and
l
a

ent
c
res
l
r
e
'
b1 sto
ast ' th P
ting a dynamic schema of social
u t th e p
was also articula
he
but
abO 50ciety.
unlikely that he is telling a single story
era1 . It is
0wnJ
. 0 gen
s 1
ce of the European comm unity. No doubt,
J ati o n
'ble emergen
poss
e
emerged and dissolved again,
th
,,ut
communi ties have
a vv
e. rnanY
s
n
many people enslaved .
se
and
is
have been fought
.
111 b
.
.
.
ny wars
a
rn
s
el is makmg certain claims about the internal
Heg
Ju st a
t
an
rnport
If we suppose that one is
Most 1
of any such commu nity.
st c ture
c
i
m
mutual
a
recognition of its
the
n
through
dy
l describes it,
as riege
d
e
s actually have
m
member
those
for
necessary that
, 1't is not
er
b
m
me
u h a life-and-d eath struggle and a period of domination.
passd. t r ssary
that these remain perman ent possibilities for the
0 c
But .'t. si
mutua l recognition consedua1 s involved , a n d that their
.
.
nd
1 1v1
sing of those possents the surmo untmg .an d surpas
repre
1
quent Y
.
. .
sibilities.
.
this for the md1v1 duals mvolved? Do they
But does it represent
their union as a rejection and surpass
themselves consciously regard
arms that may
ing of violence or domina tion, as a laying down of
must have
Hegel
is
what
this
think
I
again?
always be taken u p
.
poten
actual
and
meant At least implicitly, the internal dynamics,
tial, of the group must be apparent to its members. Hegel describes

;:

spirit as "this absolute substance which, in the complete freedom


and independence of its opposed members-Le., different self-con

sciousnesses existing for themselves-is the unity of the same. "2 In


other words, says Hegel, spirit is precisely "an I that is We, a We that
is I. " The group is constituted by individuals who are aware of and
asserti ve of their independance (I) but who voluntarily and freely
associate (we). There
is no blind allegiance, then, or the submergence
of the ind' 'd I
ivi
m
a mass movement. The establishment of comua
tnun .ty in
i
Hegel's sense is something that happens not just /or us-to
take up a
.
d'ist ' mcho n current throughout the Phenomenology- that
is for us
wh0 1 ook on and describe the process; it occurs for those
'
invo l ve
d a nd can
only occur with their full awareness . Their
aWarene
ss, the ir volu
ntary and conscious association, is what makes
it so.

--2s. Ib
id" P

llO (5 t'ightly alte


red translation

Frorn

Tim e, Narrative and tt


1story

146

U this is so then the community as env. sa


1 ged b
Y H-... 1
sort of macro-person that act s and pursues e

-- not It.

nds h " are unh...""


w
to or even contrary to the ends of its cons
__,...
. h. tuent rn
__
_
be
ern
is an 1'd ea that is often associated with H
egel, thoug rs. The
h it is f
earlier in Vico and in Adam Smith's 1 dea of th

e fuvtstble Hand. -u
,
does indeed speak elsewhere of the ..cu n .
."'!9ll
reas
..
mng of
on
in Us"Ulg
. d'IVl' dua ls to achieve its own en ds E
in
....n I n the stru 661e
nn1 for iDde.
pendence. throughout conflict and dominat o
n
.
i n, an e d IS
.

..
.
bemg
sought" t hat is d ifferent from that envisaged
canby the PirtiQ..

ch

pants, an end we

(who

describe) in retrospect

see but

cannot. What Hegel ca l ls civil society in the Ph"!


1 sphy
also corresponds to such a stage. Whe commuru. Y ts lac.king -.J
.
auu
con fl.1ct abo un d s. it is u nd erstandable that the 0..
era II resuhs <I the
.
.
.
. .
conflict will often be those envisaged by no one involved. B
ut this is
.
ause there is
no common endeavor and thus no

they

Right,

bee

common

d result . In a genuine community such endeavors d


Vlsage
visaged results do exist for the members involved. To be su
need nm
too the results may be otherwise than envisaged; but
be The idea of the individua l's being duped or used by an ageocy
.

::.

they

fro!!
larger and more powerful than himself is the farthest thing
in a genuine oom
Hegel 's idea of the indivi d ual 's participation
and more poy.'efel
larger
d
indee
is
h
whic
y.
mun ity. Such an agenc
: it is the we. But it exists by virtue
than any of its members. does exist
t
tion of its members.
icipa
par
of the active and asso ciati ve
4.

ive
Gr oup. Time, and Narrat

bis
rod uced here
of Hegel was i nt
on
ssi
cu
dis
ing
go
ng
fore
The
answen
cla im ed . for
th the means. we
w uu
o
text provi des us wi
s 1) H
. uss1on
group
of
ral .
d1sc
r
ou
in
se
.
aro
t
s
tha
?
cruciaJ question
that is genuinely
comm u nal s ubject
a
of
onceive
_
e
we c
con.stitunt ro m Jlict aod
f
indiv iduali ty of its
which preserves the
x penence o con
e common e
th
.
n
ee
tw
H\
be
on
.
1
aruc1pa1.001
What is the relati
ni ty an d p
tbt
mu
om
aod
,i
,_
of
e
c
!\S
...
nc
tio
perie
two ques
the common ex
.it, t'ies together the
llJU"
or
scious
we read
conceptio n. as
g s lf on
rience amo
expe
teo
tial for rlP'
pa
on
-c
Comm
.
e
answers to them
s c nt ams p11c1 1
a
al
y
w
als
ivi du
nysJ
Pendent-minded ind
1 y 5 t he ex
i
ng passib
of com muni
ent
lishm
1ict 's. abi di
1
fljct the estab

.
con
ni. t'10n of
while the recog
confl ict even

use

overcornin8

147

I t o We

w h en
establis hed
is
nitY
ers and
co m m u
of the oth
at the
n d e nee
saY th
pe
e
to
ind
1'h i s is
the
himself .
ledges
e
acknow
them for
,ved
o unt of t h
l
a
nt from
u
e
d
m
s J-lis acc
i
dg
thi
v
e
i
an

'l
h
t
u
s
re
tel 1 s
;,.ch ine acknOvY with even m o
communit y
a
s
the
s
u
f
e
o
es
t}\
d
er.
istence
h i n te d earli
s tJegel prov con t in ued ex
getB
ou t as we
s
d
t
turn
d
p
u
an
t
e
k
1 y an
u
ta
nt
pora 1
J-legel 's help we can
establis lfl bout its tem
with
hus
pter : an exam
etb1n8
this cha
ve account . 'f
of
n
io
t'
'
,orn
d sec
t
narra
. the secon
of the we.
e character
Pon ed i n
to be
ativ
of
arr
n
os t
an d
k e of the ro l e
t
rnporalitY
ence we spo
.
ri
t
e
be
e
wefP
exp
wet
.
n
.-bi
ive or
. tioP o
. on of c ommo
inte rsub1ect
in&
sc u ss i
ba ck to the
event , o r
In our di
ded
h'ch re fers
l l y exten
. corrunon object. w ob " ect as a tem pora
the
the
the unity of
1
tbeb :..rt. If we consi der
extended then
y
l
l
ora
ei't as temp
by a pro1ect1v
SU ,.,...
ience f
ust be procured
m
per
dual
eX
the
'
. di' v i
in
' ' d u al s ,
d iv1
as w1 th the
eness of t h e in
.
...-.rience .
. proca l awar
rec
the
experi1
p.
In

.. s
.,.r
.
this particu 1 ar
to
n
relatio
retr05 pecti ve l'>' gro up in
.
s effected bY 8
event together.
this grasp i

s
.
thi obi'ect or
co m m on
.. e" expenence
may not lea d to
ence: w
on experience
mm
co
h
o
su
e
As we saw.
. or it may l ea d t
at al l, of course
ng
thi
no
to

d
1
lea
.
ac tio n. n d
. : t may
action
over into common
es lead to or pass
do
it
ere
\\'h
t.
de rta kin g
conflic
t up in a ma ss u n
als are not swep
du
ivi
ind

e
h
t
d
e
d
prov i
' ' d ua l acpe ns? In d 1V1
ivi du ali ty, what hap
ind
ir
the
tes
tera
obli
ich
wh
mo n pro jec t; for
ticipants as part of a com
tions are conce ived by par
pro ject ,
anin g is der ived from the
those who perform them. their me
the grou p and not of
which is the undertaking properly spea king of
itself ." or t o a n
the ind ivid ual s . Whatever the grou p may be .. in
ct
extern.al observer, for the part icipan ts i t i s postu lated a s t h e subje
which gives meaning to their behavior, the agent whose action is t h e
ovual l framework of the subact ions they as i n d i v i d u a l s perform.
Hegel's accou nt of the constitution of a community in fact turns o n
.
.
.
.
the notion of a common pro1ect . He begms h i s account with t h e
.
1.
genera i dea of a common s urroun d '1ng world as ob1ect of both experi
.
dd
ence
The life-and-death struggle is fought over t h i s com
lllo

- ..d

rl;sre.
'

and the master-servant relation is organized for i t s

exploitati on. Thus


the d ommahon

.
of nature. for purposes of habitalion and the sat i. sf
.

act io n of
.
needs , remains

constantly at issue in t h e

.
ntat io n among
IX>hfro
persa ns , and t he establishmen t of a
11 envisaged

issue.

community
b
Y Hegel as the sole satisfactory way to deal w i t h t h i s

Th.is is
pa rt of
wha
. t Hegel means when
h e speaks of spirit as t h e

148

1"l lll e
acti o n
, No
of all "
rro ri. v
an d "t
e, o n
an d e
h
e
ach s
un .
d 1-f s
r al W
t h ei r
i tory

rk
by o n e
U nity
o
si
a
Pro
o n ly
d
Jd enti
brou gh
Wo ul d b
ty .'s uced b
t ab
e
t by b
l s
oth. "7
starti ng becau s lsewhe te actio
po
11s
ri t
for the
acti on o;
the "u :ha t is to i.e 8'1Ys,
Whi ch con

n Ov
all ; z
sti t utes
e
ed 'lll plle " ."\\
the corn
that i
ll s
Bu t the
soli
s t
re is
d
rn u ni ty
1
he
ore to t
akes c lll
direc te d
ud n
o
&r
ai
t
u
lll
lll
he corn
u
o
t owar
rn
an ext
on Ptoiect
cla i m s th
erna l
thon acuo11 l'll U0ii
at the c
ob
J ec t o
.
Ssib
o
an co
m
mun1 ty
r th e
po se a n
i s both
e)(ter lltetted .'
d goal"
n
t
he ta
of
I
mmon acf
th in k, th
rtin g Poi Wo rld.
i on .29
at part of
t
c
ain tenance
. Insofar
m_rnon Project s take tho"the
s
t i s m or
at of
om entary
lliean_,
the
e than
co mm on
8l'oup
a ' spon
.
sen ti rnen .
an d art icu
a
t
o
t,
s seu.
e
n
u
"
in
s
ofar as
lated Patt
su
p Sll?ge
it
ern of o
st ant I y to
e
d
i
gu ard itself
. c rnrnon action h &
n a sust . ri
t e
a a nst
the ce ntr
here i n it be

u
eedsatned
cau se of the
ifug l t
en e p n
n epend e
that m ake it
i
nt
es
-rn
d

D
nc
inde ne
up
epend 1 ng o
ss of.th
1
n the siz
an d the nat
e
a
nd cornP1e e .n diVi141duaiJl.1.
ure of its co
)(lly o
m mon task
f the
degrees of
. or tasks, th is Will
organi zation
.
. &loul,I
an d inst it
utio
group membe
u
nal
ran
a
r
rn
.
req
rs m ust
ge e ll'e Yariaus
rn hemse ves
t
ment to the com
art
as
l
P of t ir wbi
muni t
i
o cause, c
. What aJI
auses, or
this shows i s that
for
t e commu
n a n d through
n ity is c onsti

com mon expe


u
rience a d esp
t
Jects. The mutu
ecia
lly conunon
al recognit ion of
pro
its mem ers
does not take
vac uum, where the
place
m embers h ave
in a
nothing to cons
other ; nor is it
ider
bu
t
each
insta nta neous or ate
.
m pora1 . It orgam.
zes itseU in
relation to a world
.
.
and proJee ts itse
.
If over lime.
The group looks
. a
"backward s " (m
p e ha s metaphorical
rath er than strictly temporal

sens e) to 1' ts o n or1.g ms


m the individuality and

cross-purpose ciits
m embers, which have been
surmounted by th eir mutual recognihoo
and reconc il i at i on. It look
s forward to the carrying--0ut of its common
tasks and it projects its own
continued existence as the condition Im
this con tinu ed activity.

d;

n
enga

:I

r
Wh'l

Ptoj:t

To speak simply of "the group's" doing all this, of "its" l


ool:Uia
forward and back, etc., is still to risk the kind of abstractness Hegel
26.
27.
28.
29.

Jbid. p. 264.
Ibid., p. 1 1 2.
Ibid . . p. 26.f.
Ibid.

149

We
from I to

.
e
ification. But if .we. tak
son
per
erov
an
to
t
or
re: it is we
.
to res
thi"ng abstract he
and
there is no
,
nts
1 d
a
t I who act
vo
no
ci p
y but ours,
oa
parti
1and or territor
ts t
o
Y
ot
d
to be carried out, not my
\t'8oattitll e .i i't is n rn
ects that have
h
1
roj
s:
t
.
t has to be assure d etc
but ou r P
t1'6 dO al
a group tha
as

bO
urs
t mY
o
at is
. nce but
as a community t h
, and in our sense
e"1ste
bl.It r-v
i:tO
d
,,,
..
en it
s
y
wh
e
onl
J-{
'Ii j ll
.
egel
s exists when and
.
collt o p 1n
its rne mber
y
b
n
.
ses
t these sen
gtall ..... withi
A.e
the "we" in jus
1 . d fto"
.
and u se
1e
saY
1
1
sai d to d'isp lay th e
o
be
a
h
ld
t
w
'ect cou
bJ
su
s
r
sllS
wee
b
the
nd
erll
pens,
ion ' an d l fe tha t we fou
bas m this hap
experienc e. act
.
re
n
rs.
We
pte
cha
W)ie oral stfllctu of.
her
al subject m ear
1
r m d'1v 'du
experie nces
Jle ternP with the I o
.
i zation not only of
organ
.
ted
arrative
a

1-n
a
c
r
o
nces
o
mp
ass
also of the self who experie
but
the te
II)
f
d
an
1
s
ke
other: to
spa 0uons (chapter
the re each imp lies the
ac
III) As we saw
a
um.tary
am
I
alld ts (chapter
yet
;
be a unitary self .
ady
1
re
a
t
s
u
d ac
act I m
seIf is a
all ence or
eriences and actions. The
Xpert
.
ough my exp
d
thr
, as
n
a
The unity of the former involves
nlY in .
and acti'ons .
.
.
s
nce
seIf o
rie
ose mexpe
anizing principles from t h
1 of
1 erent org
d'ff
unty
hat
w
sorne
poral sequece
er; but in each case a tem
we saw.
itY of the latt
un
e
th
ative
voJved in
temporal form by virtue of a narr
a spec1'fically
er
nd
u
ht
g
is brou .
ective grasp.
llveretrosp
prospec
group, we can say that events of
e the shift to the
mak
w
o
n
conIf we
.
actions undertaken in common are
expenence and
ns
b
-actio
common
su
or
ts
even
together sequences of
. n we gather
d. whe
iute
ti
e,
'ddl
,
nmg
m1

s
g begm
ture comprism
.
tmg onto them a struc
1ec
.
.
ro
.
p
by
b1ect, is constituted as th e unity of
we grou p itself. as we-su
and end 'T'l.
es an d actions. In a11

mult iplic ity of experienc


a temporaIIY extended
cular pomt m a
parti
some
we always stand at
these cases, though
we retain whatever has gone
temporally unfol d i ng event-structure,
.
reflec
collective
before and project what is yet to come. In a kind of
tion, we act or experience in virtue of a story we tell ourselve s about

what we are go ing through or doing. It can be seen that the roles of
agent (we act1 narrator (we tell}, and audience (to ourselves) turn up

again. this time in a plural form.


Thus here, as before. the temporal structure or organization of
txperience and of action is not different from a story that is told
about it: rather, the experience or act i on is embodied in and con
stituted by the story
that is told about it. Likewise, the grou p 's
letn rally persisting
existence as a community, and as a social

$\ibiect of ex perience and action, is


not different from the story that is

t so

t old a b
Tim e N
arra1;
out i t l t
t
o
.
ve . and
,
o ls co
W h at it i s
His1ory
ns t it
a nd wh
.
t
u
e
at it
d b
an d a
d oi ng
cce pted
s
w h c Y a stor
in a k i
These
i nd of selfr i h is tol y of
are th e
efle
ge n ra
ti v
lltt d Corlltii
a ccou n ts r
e l fe
.
ature c e sOc 1 a1
u.
or I t s te rn
s
of
of arr
a th
oral e i

eory
alive st ru
stenc
x
ct u
eb
of I n div
t hat
a
we Use
id u al e
Y pPeal i corrilll
-

xis
d
t
n
'Ii
t o Work
When
ee . Deve) o
di s
o ut
e
ti on
rn n of th i
s wers to
of soc i
s
t he e
a
s at
1 to ica1
h ave ern
su ch a th
r
eory
t
e e
er
s st
th e
gro u
i
o
u
e
n
w it lli
nv
ot
i sa e
p,
the in di .
h is to
f
to mp ora
hichiti.
1 d ual ; Yet t
ric

al
lit y frorn
i
ti
.
kes
W1th 1 n rat h e
the co m
Pos
bl
si
r than
mun ity n
fra m . e an aec 'II 0
ot as an
1
rn
persp e
o
b
iec
With
of ie

t o r en
out
ctive of the
r
com m unal

lly in h
it s tem
1
e
p
ora
x
eri e
-na
P
p Iural "first rrative mode of existen nce itseIf.
&iilll
ce can
Person b
t
not
8roup
ut also be
i t self a first - p
ap
o
o
r a ched by a
lural) P roc
What has b
edu
o sed SO f
Which
and Overly
ar, h owev .
abstract
er
rom sever
mad e co ncr
al poi nts
ete an 1. t
o v
'
w.
contri but i
mad e evi den
on
to
a
n
t , onl y l.
u
we add ress
qu estio ns:
oursel ves
lll sto
to a
of C?iI
1 . What we hav
e describe
as a com mu na l
bee n derived
narrau
from a co mpa
structu
rison to wh
at we
vi d uals. The re
has
is a da nger th

vi
at in re placing
not payi. ng suffi
he
1
W th

cient attention to
in.
the plu ral ity
and how this plura
of
lity functio ns conc
retel y. In
again avoid the ten
words wsu
dency to portray the g
e rnllll
roup
as a
writ large . " When I tell
.
l
myse f a st
order to a i o
person wh o is performin
t ut, it is
g this reflec
ct of na hon.
U we say,
con tras t, in the case of the
group that we tell .
we
IS
I eg 1 h m a te nd app ropriate, prec isel
y because

ty
group, to ask. who tells, who listens
who ct ? u
e m st
n1
t hat w hat was n ly a quasi - intersubjectivity
of narrati\'e structuft

.
.
t h e md 1v 1 dual IS a real intersubjectivity in the group.
2. What kinds of groups are envisaged here? We ha\-e am
excluded groups that exist by external
alone.ml
slri cted ourselves to those that are constituted
mutual
tion and co nscious participation of their members. But "-hat kindsd
l
groups does this include? We c laimed that Hege ' theory ap?!itst
c!oeut
d ifferen t sorts of groups. We saw that for him it probably

th

e
e ou
t

:;rratioalld
ng.to the unity
tUssing the!allie
: shou1:
course orality
o Our di
Ille centerss
OtJnt
' that is
t e 'Wotld
b . a Vi
Thus hellt
only be
rnethSCrjbed
se
gly
f . xceeOudirntheo
elttatit
erstanding of
sertes.

: n:
;

;
r:a

"

,
::: ::
r
d ;

said ear ier about .


i the
the plu:.ait
other
simply
t

"

::

rl:a

1sten and
of the lurale ig
as
u

classification
by the
s

151

I t o We
na 1ogy
from
. n . the Phen ome
tio
ica
d
n
paradigm for
s om e i
p ' as h is
eo
p
.ri.ere 1s
a
of
ction of h i' s
sp in t
ical proje
tor
ilY ik st or
s
.
i
the
1 'se ri ousl y the b
tl1e fa y0J s8ek
was conside ring
9 ti
oe
,8 ta e
.
. er it seem s he
y
ist 0r of
}(e earh ,
.11cl11 1alee 30 If ...
the stan dard h'
e
ur
p
there
st )lIJ J1i t'.cJl we s r oup s th at fi g
m
li kely that
s etc It is
a
r g
o
ltu
' coif) . of '7'oal -cu reeks. the R . hih is identified as the
s
e
tlle s oat l Jews. th e the "We thatai I d the we that functions
w y, in the Phe
G ist g ner l
v&!1est: t o Jl etw
be c
teriou s a
f e
n
l
a
a

pean
rg
fl
cruci
sing his Euro
cori
ei1le
such a
be add res
of
see
virtue
t
l be
uni ty in
cou d
tute a comm
s
e tod:1osicailY
.
ch
co
the Fren
d aying: we
o JosY= }-l5 eg
and incl uding
111etfle110
gh toge ther. u P to
mon
an s
of our com
orar1 e
/lotfl
throu
1 on . Because
o
a d
not
it did
f
11 ave be conquests N
coot
c e or us that
a
dt
n
g
s a 1s_
through i t.
wlla l!l tion an a st now ha
ves ) who lived
ursel
o
oe'IO ce tbe P hose (' nclu d ing
.. hnung J31
(Verso
" erien
ve for t
. . on w ith reconciliation
l
pe be
i
PJd not ba tual recogn1tonte
tory of modern Euro
nti' ou s his
w of
coll

c
ks
U
Jll
a
see-s
the
a
f{egel 11n urging that
dy strugg le an d
m a bloo
fro
e
al
a11d rnaY b d d ial ectic lY m uni t

Y
f rJlle
m
w
t to be
ne co
com m u ru ty IS mean
of
n
uans. o u. on into a
tio
o
n
I's
e
Heg
t
ean h'istory. niis
doJlll na is clear t ha
n-s tates of Europ
atio
n
t
d
I
s do
eo p les a;1
apply to them , that i ,
to th e p
es i t genuine ly
o
1)
an d
:
se?
apPhe o questions
l's (and our) sen
mu ni' tie s in Hege
m
es tW
o
c
s
as
1
ra1
l u nction
does it ap ply on y to
an d them? an d 2)
t
reaJ y f
ers
d
un
to
tbeY
bel us
does it tltus p

::

Jl

::

::S

-Franois
265.
term5 used by Jean
ity of
Minneapolis: Univers
07-4 08. In th
.
P
uml
4
M8"
B.
and
. P
B n
i.e. the attempt to
P
sm.
moderni

of
condilion
version
is is
rrative. "
4
narrative" or umetana
PostJ!lesota rress. t98 l:a1
tives under a "grand
dern" la
a
an:
r_i
soc1
ar
u
parl
e
um
Mi!lll
ic l
and Marxism. The "postmo
ism
ssiv

narratives are taen


yers os ioclu.de
such
u
i
xxrv
(p.
s"
ative

.
JO.

I.

Jl. !ii,.;;

Lyotard in The

(tr.;

fef.:

!::efa:

incred
c d
ruth. they may well deserve our
denned as in re .uh!rm
s to historical t
such
ghtforward cl
in the next chapter. that
er
furth
e
argu
11 strai
shall
here a dn
and their
dung d a,s part of the project . of community-building.
Bui I am sugges
at' are a vance
m penuadin8
1
Mir .1
her their advocates succeed ,
ately 8 question of whet
ry may aim
hUto
of
y
_.11d1ty u
soph
philo
t. Hegel's
the community they projec
be read u a
to
be unrealizable. But it should

. .
1

rsal project may


e
iihen
.
.
ItS1niv

high ,
nce.
al. not as a putative scie
appe
ical
1DOralpolit
mas' Theory
Haber
J.
of
said
be
could
The same

uhty.

indeed

T. Mc:Carthy. Boston: Beacon Press.

of Communicative Action. (vol. I, tr.


l
1984) which can be seen as a recasting of 's
.

ophy " iden

g the wphllos
dialectic ol recognition and reconciliation. While rejectin
projects an ever-widemlng and

tity" u a theoretical stance. Habenna.s nevertheleu


of
llltimatety universal sphere of consensus which finally merges with the conditions
axnmuniation itself. While he sees particular communities with their wlife-worlds"
&m0113 the conditions of communication (conditions that in this case can be
llllucended L Habennas neglects. in my view. the role of communicatioll--1llld in
Plrtlculu oartive construction-in the constitution of communities.

1'1 m e, Narra tlvo, and Hist ory


1 n2
I to gro u p s of oth
if H o p p l i cab o
or 80 rta
18
t
t
ft
l
t
W h ic
1 hom .
d
t
h
e
J
in
e
across
s
e stab lis he
h ex
s c ut
hap
r
p
d
t at

b
Y our st
wi th i n " "
J

1
laps
or
not
a
a
ler
s
i
n
h l 11
way o f ask
p
da rd
f J.l is to ry ? 'r
ing a
q
"otlon o
u
.
sur faco f n stu dy in g He
co mos to the
gel are esuon
"'
w h i ch oftAn
his c
Hcab lo outs J d o t h o fra me work of 8
on .
8p
p
t
s
h
h
a
1 tn
c 1os
d
e d con.
h hito r y which h a s been superced ed by e
wor l
ct'fl1 ""
vents?
co pt 1 on of
sib lo tha t o ur not ion o f com mu n i t y is n ot on 1
Y ov l
s. I ' i t Po
r
mat i c and abst ract but a I so somew h at i d eali zed as well? F e Y
e
h
ll
o o
sc
oool wo have stressed t he role of con flict an d poten w.
t 1 8 1 for
i ng H "
o d t h o commun ity as exi sting w
i
b
doscr
ve
a
h
hen confl .
co n flict but
ict
f
i
n
act
many
not
e
com
ift
ll
th
ere
'
o
mun
ar
ut
iti
es
m
uu rc o
in W hlCh
1S Ov
s
t
l
t
u
t
i
ve
of
l
f
co
the
itse
grou
is
p'
and
s ident ity?

confl ict porslst s


Is i t
often
1s
chara
ity
cteriz
n
u
comm
ed
a
not
that
by 8 si n 1
ot tho case
on
tasks,
which
and
all
ty,
agree , but by ri
tory of its origins, uni

and co nfl ict ing stories?


Another way in which our account may be over-id eali zed, aga in
perha ps because of Hegel's influence on it, is in suggesting that 8
commu n i ty exists by the conscious a n d volu ntary associa tion of
Independent ind ividuals. Are there not groups which are significant

in the social world at large , sign ificant for h istory, and important for
us as indi viduals, which we simpl y grow into or find ourselves

belonging to without having made any explicit choice?

These are all questions that can only be a d d ressed by a much more
concrete and detailed elaborat ion of our t heory. It i s t o this task that
tum in our final chapter.